Official police cowardice means it is better to sacrifice the innocent to death and maiming than risk a police officer’s life.
Look, I get it. Being a police officer today can be a thankless job. Even when you do the right and necessary thing, mindless minions in the culture and their media-savvy figureheads might decide to turn the criminal you had to take down into a martyr. At that point, you find yourself vilified by a bunch of people who don’t care a whit about justice—they simply want a predetermined outcome.
But… there is at least an equal and perhaps greater problem that feeds into the atmosphere I described above. In far, far, far too many cases, police use unnecessary and short-sighted maneuvers that bring grave harm to innocents they’re sworn to protect—even at the cost of their own lives.
I was forced to think about this some more after reading John Whitehead’s excellent recent commentary.
The recent Sheriff’s SWAT team murder of David Hooks in his own Georgia home is an especially egregious example. Hooks was a crime victim, but the thief who stole his SUV was a piker compared with the wannabe Rambos who slaughtered the successful businessman as he sought to protect his wife from invading thugs.
There is also the nauseating case of toddler Bounkham Phonesavanh who had holes blown in his face and chest by another errant Georgia SWAT team doing a cowardly nighttime raid on yet one more “wrong house.”
“Baby Bou Bou may have survived the misdirected SWAT team raid that left him with a hole in his face and extensive scars on his body, but he will be the one to pay the price for the rest of his life for the SWAT team’s blunder in launching a flashbang grenade into his crib. And even though the SWAT team was wrong about the person they were after, even though they failed to find any drugs in the home they’d raided, and even though they may have regretted the fact that Baby Bou Bou got hurt, it will still be the Phonesavanh family who will pay and pay and pay for the endless surgeries every year to reconstruct their son’s face as he grows from toddler to boy to teenager to man. Already, they have racked up more than $900,000 in medical bills. Incredibly, government officials refused to cover the family’s medical expenses.”
Police should be required to positively confirm the person they’re seeking is inside before initiating such a raid, and even then, it should never be done on a nonviolent offender—too many lives are at-risk in such scenarios.
When I was growing up, police were almost universally looked upon as selfless heroes. They have greatly forfeited that status by—in too many instances—becoming more evil than the ones they’re supposedly protecting us from.
Yes, I said more evil.
Rodney Garrett merely stole David Hooks’ vehicle. The Sheriffs’ team murdered him. Wanis Thonetheva, the person police were reportedly seeking in the Phonesavanh case, was a non-violent drug addict. The SWAT team grenaded a baby.
Good officers need to speak up, and seek an end to the nighttime raids against uncertain and nonviolent targets. Those who remain silent justly share the shame of those who actually take part in such evil. Citizens also need to befriend and petition their local police chiefs and Sheriffs, asking them to drop these tactics.
Save SWAT teams for situations that truly demand them, when regular officers would be outgunned in the face of an obviously dangerous criminal or criminals. As this article from John Whitehead details, we’re all paying dearly for this tragic and unnecessary shift in law enforcement strategies–though we don’t suffer nearly as much as those who directly endure these assaults.