In this dramatic video you will see the the best possible outcome for a situation where a man is threatening officers with a knife and is not responding to commands to drop said weapon.
The responding officer remained in the safety of his vehicle until backup arrived. The officer was almost pleading for the perp to drop the knife. When he didn’t, and continued to move towards another officer, that officer fired a taser.
I understand that when a situation is deteriorating it is easy for things to spiral out of control. Tasers don’t always work, and if a single officer is faced with a threat and no backup, I understand why one would opt for their gun.
I do think that if there is sufficient backup that non-lethal means should be attempted on a knife wielding suspect. The fact that an officer might be justified legally in shooting a suspect at the time he or she pulls the trigger, does not mean that the situation was unavoidable from the start of the encounter.
I want cops to be safe, but I agree with Professor Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds when he writes about the institutional mindset in modern policing that creates an “Us vs. Them” mentality.
from Glenn Reynolds, USA Today:
“But police turn their attention inward. The people they are policing aren’t enemy combatants, but their fellow citizens — and, even more significantly, their employers. A combat-like mindset on the part of police turns fellow-citizens into enemies, with predictable results.
I sometimes think the turning point was marked by the old cop show Hill Street Blues.Each episode opened with a daily briefing before the officers went out on patrol. In the early seasons, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus concluded every briefing with “Let’s be careful out there.” In the later episodes, his replacement, Sergeant Stan Jablonski, replaced that with “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.” The latter attitude is appropriate for a war zone, but not for a civilized society.
This attitude is more dangerous than a Bradley, and the main danger of giving police military equipment isn’t that they’ll be well-armed, but that it fosters a war-zone mindset. The notion of unaccountable power is what does the real harm. A recentWashington Post column by an LAPD officer saying “If you don’t want to get shot, Tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you,” illustrates the problem.”
I do not think that policing in this country is motivated by racism. However, political policies such as the War on Drugs and the Welfare-state destruction of minority families have created an atmosphere of outright hostility between the police and large swaths of the citizenry. I am not excusing individual action or responsibility, but there is no denying the disparate impact that misguided Satism has had on minority populations.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t countless examples of good policing where officers do in fact deeply care about the communities they serve. One recent example in Knoxville is where black residents of a housing project came to the aid of a white officer who was being attacked by a cracked-out woman who was not dropped when hit by a taser.
“Roberts witnessed the event through a window at the Dr. Lee Williams Complex, a senior citizens center he oversees in Walter P. Taylor Homes. Roberts had seen the confrontation develop despite Gwathney “trying to de-escalate the situation” and worried as he saw the crowd of black onlookers encircle the lone officer.
“With my experiences with police over the years, I was just amazed,” said the 69-year-old Roberts who led Knoxville’s black community through the racial tinderbox in the late 1990s when several black men died during confrontations with Knoxville officers.
“And it wasn’t just a few people, it was the whole crowd. I was shaking my head in disbelief, but it was a good feeling.”
Gwathney, an 18-year veteran of the Knoxville Police Department, said the woman bit two of the residents who came to his aid. The 28-year-old woman, he said, was wanted on 10 outstanding warrants and had been ordered to stay out of Walter P. Taylor homes.
The gathering crowd was a reassurance and not a threat for him. These are his people. He knows their names. He goes to their children’s graduations.
To residents of East Knoxville, Gwathney is “Officer G.”
I do not have a neat little bow to wrap up this post. In fact, I am really leaving the subject open for your thoughts. I do not have the answer, but policing for profit and the Incarceration-Industrial complex is out of control. The power of the State is derived from the consent of the governed, a fact that is too frequently disregarded by politicians and police alike.