Nomination For a Hero Badge

Ask people to rank law enforcement agencies by competencies and it is likely they will place federal law enforcement agencies at the top of the heap. This story, out of Idaho, demonstrates that good PR is no substitute for experience. Federal Forest Service cops, known by real police as squirrel sheriffs. Decided to mount an undercover/raid on a family of squatters. What followed would have Mack Sennett hollering, “Aw Shit,” because he didn’t come up with the idea. I believe that the possum posse ticked every box on the list of things not to do when carrying out a raid.

The impetus for the raid was a misdemeanor charge of camping on public land. The offenders were a family of four, one an amputee, another in a wheelchair and a third considered to be retarded. Of all the participants, on either side, the retard was apparently the smartest one present.

The possum posse set out to evict the squatters. To accomplish this task, they assembled a mixed bag of Feds, Bureau of Land Managment and Forest Service cops. I suspect that this coordinated enforcement action represented a first. Keep in mind this wasn’t a spur of the moment action. The feds had been dealing with the family for some time. The numbers, physical and mental condition of the family were known. During previous encounters the family talked tacky to the Feds. Apparently, there were no threats made. Had there been, I’m pretty sure the heroic federal officers would have stacked up the charges. But they didn’t. All they had was a misdemeanor for overstaying their welcome on federal land.

In Texas, in order to execute a forcible entry, the cops must allege a felony. A misdemeanor, even a misdemeanor arrest warrant does not entitle the cops to kick a door.

At least the possum posse didn’t go dynamic. Instead, they sent two of the number to lure out the family. They claimed that their vehicle had a dead battery and that they needed a jump. To a degree, the subterfuge worked. There is no way a redneck can resist giving a stranded motorist a jump. Pay it forward, it could be them with a dead battery, next time. The ploy worked.

Once away from the family compound the two undercover feds jumped the redneck. The redneck didn’t like that and set about squalling and hollering. This caused his brother to come wheeling to his rescue. Did I mention the wheelchair?

Contrary to television, real police know that it is bad form to attempt an arrest from an undercover posture. If the undercover cop is successful in whatever pose they assume, then the crook is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Were you lying when you claimed you weren’t a cop or are you lying now when you claim that you are a cop?

Timing is everything. I am reminded of another Fed cop screw up. A wacko took a hostage at the Audie Murphy VA hospital. A VA hospital cop, a sergeant no less, whipped a tear gas grenade into the room containing the wacko and his hostage. It did not have the desired effect. Next the sergeant decided to negotiate. He left cover and attempted to enter the room, claiming to be the wacko’s friend. The wacko shot him. Proving that the wacko might be crazy, but he wasn’t stupid.

Back to the rednecks. Had the covering Feds (the raid team) collapsed in on the redneck Mr. Goodwrench identifying themselves as the possum posse, then the brother in the wheelchair might have put on the brakes. But they didn’t. All he saw was two guys jumping on his brother Mr. Goodwrench. So, he produced a .22 caliber pistol. The possum posse unleashed a barrage of gunfire and blew him out of the wheelchair.

Everybody went to jail. The rednecks were convicted of assault federal officers and received probation.

There are some that will claim that this story is a one off. Yeah, no. Ruby Ridge, Waco, Salt Lake City, Mar a Lago, the Miami bank shoot out the list goes on. The Feds are good at case stealing, glory hunting, and bureaucratic infighting. When it comes to actual nuts and bolts confrontations with violent felons and the like, turn to the cops and sheriff’s deputies who are on the streets day in and day out.

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