Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cops and the Right to Self Defense

This is an article I wrote for the Oregonian, and they published it. You can read the whole article here

Police and the mentally ill: Cops have a right to self-defense
By James Wolfer

Portland Chief Mike Reese announced last week his desire to transform police training, saying that he wants to transform it from a " 'fear-based model' -- where officers are taught to think a motorist reaching toward a floorboard is going for a gun -- to one founded on 'competency and confidence' -- where a mentally ill man isn't treated like a bank robber."

First, I'd like to say how much respect I have for the new police chief. He sure has his work cut out for him in that revolving door that is the chief's position in the Portland Police Bureau. And while there is definitely room for improvement in police training with regard to the mentally ill, removing the "fear-based training" model altogether would be disastrous.

The police need to assume, for their own survival, that someone reaching might be reaching for a gun. Police deaths are up nationally. According to statistics available from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, officer deaths in 2009 were 42 percent higher than in 2008 across the board in the U.S., with 80 percent of those deaths resulting from gunfire. Statistics are not yet available for 2010, but it seems that almost every week an officer is killed somewhere in the country. Some of those shootings have happened here in the Northwest. How quickly we've forgotten the four officers assassinated in Lakewood, Wash., just last December. Even here in Portland, people, some of them mentally ill, have attempted to fight police with deadly weapons. While some are protesting the police "profiling" and killing of Otis Keane, many in the public fail to address the fact that Keane shot first. He shot an officer in the legs, twice, before being fatally shot by the other officers involved. Thankfully, the officer survived, but what would have happened if he had not? Would the public have been appeased? I doubt it. Most likely, there would still be protests against the police for killing their attacker.

The Portland Police Bureau could use more training in dealing with the mentally ill. But the Portland-area public also is in dire need of education on what happens when someone, mentally ill or not, tries to use deadly force against the police: the officers will defend themselves with deadly force. The police have a lawful right to self-defense, to survive an attack and go home to their family at the end of the day, regardless of the attacker's mental state.

James Wolfer lives in Southwest Portland.


bluepitbull said...

OSP are the best trained police in the country, maybe even the world.

As a sibling to two leo's, I would agree. Policeman is a thankless job with low pay and not many benefits. Here in San Antonio, the starting salary is 24,000 (?!?).

James' Muse said...

Here it's closer to $40,000-$50,000, but doesn't get much higher. Right now I'm in the process with a few different departments, but I'm just so sick of hearing all the complaints right now. Last month they kicked out the police chief for disagreeing with the mayor.

bluepitbull said...

It's a shame when you see the ugliness in any administration, especially law enforcement. Isn't it buckaroo? My little bro had me stop talking in the hallways at his station because we were being monitored. How sad is that?

Pamela D. Hart said...

James: My brother is a Policeman. That’s all he ever wanted to be, since he was a little boy. It’s a dangerous job, as YOU know. It’s not just the criminals and the mentally ill but also the people who should be on medication, i.e. bipolar, manic, etc. My brother was disabled for almost a year because a 300lb man took a seizure ON him! There are SO many scenarios that Police Officers can TRY to be prepared for, but REAL life can throw many twists and turns and it’s NOT fair that the public blames the Officers.

I’m in FULL agreement with you, though. It’s good to have alternative training, but NEVER give up the “fear based training” because it damn well could save their lives.

James' Muse said...

Yes, it is quite the dangerous job. What makes me mad is seeing the people in charge pandering to the cop haters. I was going to be testing with Portland this month, but after I saw the Chief get canned for standing up for her officers, and seeing the new chief's policies-I decided to wait until the next round of recruitments. I'm in process right now with some Sheriff's Offices that have their heads on straight and don't pander to the cop haters.

Pamela D. Hart said...

James: My questions is this: WHY are there SO many cop-haters? Where has this mentality come from? Cops ARE the GOOD guys, for Pete's sake!

Just goes to show HOW screwed up this country really is.

James' Muse said...


I think there are two major reasons why people don't like cops.

1. People don't like authority and resent being told what to do.

2. The minority of corrupt and/or racist/sexist etc. cops that are out there making the general populace think that all cops are the same.

I think it is a great career to aspire to (I may be biased here) and a great way to give back to the community: by providing public safety. But with that will come the thankless.

Revo said...

Yes, I'll use the word "hate" since that's the liberal word of every day it seems.

The new Arizona law gives authority to law enforcement to enforce illegal immigration. Liberals act as if law enforcement is going to start raiding homes illegally and dragging people out of vehicles.

Why is that? These men and women enforce the law and they do it by the book. They do it first because I believe they truly are there to serve the public and protect citizens (key word).

It's no different than if you get pulled over for a traffic violation, a tail light out, weaving, etc. What does the officer first ask you? "May I see your license and proof of insurance". Yes, a license is a legal identification card. Same as an ID card if you're walking down the street. Many cities (ie. New York) require you to carry ID in case an officer has a reason to ask you for it.

They don't ask for your citizenship papers. That is unless you have no government issued ID. I mean, how do these illegals function without an ID anyways? I lost mine once and it was like I wasn't a person anymore. Can't go to the bank, can't cash a check, can't pick up a package, can't go to a bar.

Why do liberals hate law enforcement and our military as well?

Reminder: The word "hate" is used liberally here. ;) It's called sarcasm and you liberals do not support our troops and our law enforcement.

Happy To Correct You said...

"Why do liberals hate law enforcement and our military as well?"

What garbage!

Since there are more liberals than conservatives in America, you should be glad liberals DO support our military, police, and the rule of law.

A democrat led in war during WW I. A Democrat led us in war during WW II. A Democrat led us in Korea and Vietnam.

It was a Republican who gave up on Vietnam. A Republican who would not capture Saddam. A Republican who could not bring the fighting to an end in Iraq after 8 years, although WW II was only 4 years long. Nine years in Afghanistan, yet, now Obama has to clean up GWB's military mess.

The facts state that Democrats are better defenders of this country than Republicans.