Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Changing Challenge to U.S. Law Enforcement

The tragic death of Rigoberto Alpizar at the hands of U.S. Air Marshal’s at Miami International Airport is an opening salvo to a problem that terrorism is bringing to western law enforcement. A similar problem occurred in Britain subsequent to the recent subway bombings when police shot a man as a potential bomber.

The application of deadly force on the part of domestic law enforcement is one of the most volatile of public issues. Police officers are faced with split-second decisions and often their decisions, whether or not they employ deadly force, result in the death of others and/or the death of others and themselves. The public and mainstream media will instantly rush to judgment based upon perceptions and bias. The judiciary will take an interminable amount of time to adjudicate the issue.

The gold standard when judging whether or not the use of deadly force is lawful is whether or not a reasonable man in the same circumstances would conclude that there was a perceived grave danger to the officer or others. The fact that there may not actually have been a grave danger is immaterial.

Most of the time for law enforcement, the officer will not conclude a grave danger until there is evidence of a weapon about to be deployed. For example, an officer observes a subject holding a firearm but the firearm is not pointed in the direction of any person. The officer perceives a hazardous situation based upon the circumstances of the incident and orders the subject to put the gun down. If the subject fails to comply but does not turn the weapon toward any person, the threat has not risen to the level of employing deadly force. Should the subject make any motion that is construed to be bringing the weapon into action or aiming it at another person, the threat has risen to a level such that the application of deadly force is appropriate.

Thanks to the world of suicide-homicide bombers, the application of deadly force dilemma has been ratcheted up a notch. Since a bomb can be concealed in and detonated within most anything, how are officers to know whether or not the application of deadly force is appropriate? Well, there really is no difference. The totality of the circumstances will dictate an action. Unfortunately, with potential bombers there will be many more mistakes made in the form of deaths of innocent people taken for bombers. And, there will be deaths of officers and innocent bystanders when necessary deadly force is not taken.

It is anticipated that the Western world will begin to suffer an increased number of suicide-homicide bomber incidents. As that happens, more innocent people will die at the hands of police as a result of mistakes. It is a price that free people pay when Islamo-fascism knocks at the door.