Friday, September 10, 2010

and finally…

You need a thick skin to be a police officer, because there are an awful lot of critics out there who think they can do it better than you. This is the email this week that really caused me to grit my teeth—sent to the Mayor and the entire City Council.  Since it is now splayed out for the entire world to see online in the City Council’s correspondence, I have decided that I might as well do the same with my response—protecting the identities of those involved. :
Chief Casady:
I am writing to you today with,  extreme frustration and disappointment in the inability of your officers to handle and place in custody an assault suspect.
Last Saturday morning, 9/4/10, around 1 am, I was providing a ride for my son, daughter-in-law, and their friends, near the 16th & Centennial Mall area, when I noticed two black men and a white female following my family and friends obviously looking for a confrontation.  I got out of the car to help my family get in and control the situation when one of the black men starting saying words to me which I just ignored.  He then took a swing at me which struck my face.  I turned to him and told him to just leave and proceeded to assist my family in the car.
While helping my family in the car, with my back turned away, he then proceeded to sucker punch me in the back of the head sending me to the ground seeing stars.  One of your bicycle officers was the first to respond to the scene and proceeded to arrest the suspect and in trying to place him in custody, the suspect escaped from the officer and began to run.  The officer gave chase but was unable to catch him (ironically he said that he had lost his shoe while running).  On a positive note, [the second officer] was very helpful making sure I was OK but could not believe [the officer] let the suspect escape.
I was just physically assaulted and your officer was unable to place the suspect in custody.  How frustrating to know that I was doing the right thing by ignoring this man and avoiding a confrontation and still get physically assaulted and your officer can not do his job properly. It appeared to me that [the officer] had no idea what he was doing and lacked critical training in police procedures.  This does not instill much confidence in me on the level of safety your officers are providing within our community and themselves.  And now, to make matters worse, we have worry about the level of safety within our city given the bars are allowed to stay open an hour later. 
I would appreciate an explanation on the arresting protocol and how you are planning to address the lack of training that I personally witnessed. “

I read the reports, exchanged a few emails with both the officer and the complainant, and it was obvious to me that there was nothing wrong with how the officer responded, and that it was simply a broken play, just like in football.  Being more fleet of mouth than of foot, I've been there on many occasions myself.  There isn't anyone who feels worse about an arrestee getting away than the officer who momentarily had him in his grasp.  My reply:

I am sorry the bad guy got away. It looks easy on TV. In the real world, however, suspects often have no respect for an officer’s authority or commands, are often slippery (quite literally), always have an instant to pre-plan their next move, have an automatic jump on an officer’s reaction time, are often amped up on drugs and jacked up by a jolt of adrenaline that accompanies the body’s fight-or-flight response, and they are not weighted down by several pounds of police equipment and body armor.  You can’t very effectively sprint flat out at the same time your digging for your radio, nor can you both chase a fleeing suspect and detain his companions at the same time. Help was on the way, and arrived quite quickly, but these events occurred in just a matter of moments, as you know.

I am certain no one is more disappointed at this subject’s escape than the officer, who is fit, well-trained, and who makes scores of arrests in one of the busiest assignments in the City, including nine on the same night as this case."

I had a hard time writing a response, frankly.  I had to have a few people look at it before I sent it out.  Teddy Roosevelt expressed my feelings in a much more eloquent and tactful manner than I could muster:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The TR quote is one of my favorites and applicable to quite a few situations in life.

Watchful said...

It is hard to be a victim in a case like this and not feel that the officer failed. At the same time, I bet the victim didnt take one step to go after the suspect, assisting in the officer's pursuit.

There probably is nothing more demoralizing than running from the police and have the pursuing officer, who's footsteps can be heard close at the suspect's heels, then, having the officer come alongside, stride for stride and say "Thanks. I needed a good jog today. Where are we going?"

Rather than have a struggle once the suspect is caught, just take the will to fight (or run) out of the situation.

Unfortunately, the encounter was not with 826. Bob just cant be everywhere a suspects becomes fleet of foot.

Running a race, someone always wins. In this case, a bad guy got away. This does not mean that he will stay out of officer's grasp forever.

Cops have an innate ability to remember details, names and even birthdates. This guy will be in custody sometime in the future.

More importantly, if the officer saw the suspect's face, the officer will be watching for the one that got away. Think of it as a pride thing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the "victim" would like an opportunity to do some role playing? He could put on the vest and fully loaded gun belt (minus the bullets) and try to take the officer into custody as the "bad guy". He would have to follow policy using only the amount of force allowed. He could see that it is not as easy as it looks on TV and not all Officers are Carl Lewis!!

Anonymous said...

Chief-There are situations in life where it is extremely difficult to bite your tongue and suppress the urge to just say "Are you f***ing kidding me?". I applaud your restraint.

256

JIM J said...

Stay home and do not mingle with a mass of drunkin idiots. problem solved!

Anonymous said...

Well said Chief! The LPD officers do an outstanding job. I admire your advocacy of staff when under attack.

Anonymous said...

I guess this citizen will want the Police to gather fingerprints off of everything a suspect lay his/her hands on, catch all the criminals because they always leave clues, and expect them to chase all of them down and catch them. Wow, please realize this is not a TV show, it's called reality.

Sigh, people want so many things done for them, yet they are not willing to do anything. Good luck in life mister!

Steve said...

Though the complainant didn't say so, he may be wondering why the officer didn't just shoot the fleeing suspect. Personally, I'd have no problem with it, but I'm sure the bleeding hearts would come pouring out of the cracks and crevices where they belong. Police brutality, cruel and unusual punishment, vigilantisim, profiling, blah, blah, blah...

Meanwhile the victim was brutally beaten. Perhaps it was a hate crime! After all the assualt was on a member of a different race (here I'm making the assumption the complainant was white since he brought up the race of the attacker). How many more people will suffer the same or worse fate before this guy finally gets nabbed? How many more people will suffer the same fate after he gets nabbed and released on his own recognizance, or he skips bail, or gets probation, or early release? A few well-placed, inexpensive, pieces of lead would go a long way toward reducing this type of incident.
Where's a good castle law when you need one? If people could defend themselves wherever they have a legal right to be without fear of prosecution and/or civil suits ruining the rest of their lives, we'd have another deterrent to this kind of behavior.

Anonymous said...

IF THE POLICEMAN IS NEAT, HE'S CONCEITED; IF HE IS CARELESS, HE IS A BUM.

IF HE'S PLEASANT, HE'S A FLIRT; IF HE'S NOT HE'S A GROUCH.

IF HE HURRIES, HE'S CARELESS; IF HE'S DELIBERATE, HE'S LAZY.

HE MUST BE FIRST TO AN ACCIDENT AND INFALLIBLE WITH A DIAGNOSIS.

HE MUST BE ABLE TO START BREATHING, STOP BLEEDING, TIE SPLINTS AND, ABOVE ALL, BE SURE THE VICTIM GOES HOME WITHOUT A LIMP, OR EXPECT TO GET SUED.

THE POLICE OFFICER MUST KNOW EVERY GUN, DRAW ON THE RUN, AND HIT WHERE IT DOESN'T HURT.

HE MUST BE ABLE TO WHIP TWO MEN TWICE HIS SIZE AND HALF HIS AGE WITHOUT DAMAGING HIS UNIFORM AND WITHOUT BEING "BRUTAL".

THE POLICEMAN MUST BE A MINISTER, A SOCIAL WORKER, A DIPLOMAT, A TOUGH GUY, AND A GENTLEMAN.

AND OF COURSE HE'LL HAVE TO BE A GENIUS....FOR HE'LL HAVE TO FEED A FAMILY ON A POLICEMAN'S SALARY.

Anonymous said...

Chief,
I think the victim of this assault expects way too much. Although physical fitness is important for an officer not everyone will be fit enough to subdue every perpetrator. The officer involved probably observed enough details to aid in the capture of this offender later. The important thing is the assault was stopped and the victims protected from further harm. Maybe the victim of this incident should consider taking some training in how to provide for his own self defense? He was lucky this time because a police officer was close by.

Gun Nut

JIM J said...

Steve: I hope the comments do not come back in the event you would have to use lethal force. I'm sure a prosecutor would not use them against you, but in the event a civil issue went to court, and people file suit often against people who mean well and even if your in the right, willingness to fire a weapon, (Personally, I'd have no problem with it,) might give a judgment seeker a needed advantage in civil court where the formality of evidence is much lax compared to criminal proceedings. Not a lawyer here, but do chat with them on occasion.

Steve said...

Was there any mention of the motive for this attack? Sometimes people who get a beating deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Steve-Based on what I've read, and doing a little reading between the lines, I'd guess the victim did little to provoke the attack other than by his actions. He probably had "victim" written on his forehead in the eyes of a predator. I'd gamble he looked at his attacker with fear in his eyes, then looked away, indicating that fear to the attacker. He may have given a look of disdain which was read as a challenge or may have had a racial interpretation for the attacker. Could have been any number of things. But in any event, he didn't deserve to get whacked in front of his family just because he gave off wimp vibes.

256

Steve said...

Just to clarify, the intended meaning of my statement was that I would have no problem with a law enforcement officer shooting a fleeing suspect.
As for my own willingness to shoot another person, it would depend on the situation, and I really can't say what I'd actually do, except that I would hope I would be able to defend myself and/or other innocent people with deadly force if it were necessary.

Anonymous said...

lol, I agree with Steve (3:22pm). Like you've talked about in other posts chief, when people tell their side of the story, it usually down plays the things that make them look bad, and they try their best to make themselves look good. I'm sure this just wasn't some random, unprovoked attack. What'd the victim do to anger the bad guy?

Anonymous said...

I expected to see some kind of sobriety checkpoint after-action report in the fishwrap by now, but they might be waiting for your PIO to spoon-feed it to them (less work that way).

HuskerXD said...

Unfortunate the Bad Guy got away this time. I've always felt LPS does a fine job, in my humble estimation. People need to realize they play the most important and active part in their own safety and protection... while the victim showed remarkable restraint in getting punched and not physically responding, he also "left the door open" when he turned around. Hopefully Karma gets the BG in the end.

Steve said...

256:

You're read on the possible motive is probably correct. I was just curious if the victim even mentioned any possible reason for the attack. Yes, lacking anything more than a look of fear or "disdain" from the victim, there was no justification for the attack.

Once while going into a grocery store, I had to walk past a car that was basically parked in the middle of the driveway and causing consderable traffic congestion. As I passed, I looked at the driver, probably with a great deal of disdain. He happened to be black, though it wouldn't have mattered, and he began shouting racial comments directed at me, got out of his vehicle, and wanted to fight (or at least put on a show that he did). I had my toddler son with me at the time, and for his sake, I kept on walking and ignored the guy. Otherwise, there probably would have been an ass kicking, though I'm not sure which ass would have been kicked. :)

JIM J said...

September 12, 2010 10:53 AM:
You can see fresh pictures of the event on my blog....
http://jimjsway.
blogspot.com/

Click the "IT FIT" link..enjoy

JIM J said...

Steve: I hope you are around sometime if the situation arises...

Theseus said...

So, let me get this straight...This guy is being followed, yelled at & finally punched. Although commendable to continue to try & turn the other cheek (presumably to get hit there too), he turns away instead of getting ready to defend himself? Sounds to me like someone needs to man up & figure out how to defend himself instead of relying on others.

Sam said...

Chief, I can see why this person was upset. You unfortunately didn't see how this person was affected after being beaten up. Of course they would be mad and looking for someone to blame and most everyone else who has never been beaten would also! Give this person a break for coming off strong and stop trying to defend your officers at every turn. You didn't acknowledge this person's distraught state of mind and that is really where you failed here.

Your e-mail was read by several of your colleagues before it was sent out and of course they would agree with you...your the Chief! Can't wait for the bandwagon folks who don't think through scenarios and do a proper evaluation to "jump" on this post.

Knowing how sensitive you got from this person's e-mail, and how you failed to see their point of view, you won't see my point of view on this either.

Anonymous said...

I think the Chief is right in defending his officers! People need to understand that officers try their best and when they fail to make an arrest, it doesn't mean they are incompetent. That said, I kind of agree with Sam on one point that the Chief should have responded with more understanding to a person who had the crap beaten out of them. No, I'm not a "bleeding heart" idiot, just looking at this objectively.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the YouTube video, it appears that the whole police force got some practice on Gary Grana.