Winner of the Ghetto Lottery

Alternative to Suicide by Cop

Stephon-Clark-shooting-police-should-show-more-discipline-restraint.  The article almost had me agreeing until he brought Stephon Clark into the mix. Over forty years ago, a  group of young cops decided there had to be a better way of doing things. We sat down and developed a program called “Officer Survival.” I am not saying we were the first or the best. 

It was an idea whose time had come, and police officers all over the country were looking for a solution that would give street cops the edge in handling confrontations. We realized that due to physical ability, skill level, department policy, state law, the equipment available and even the personality of the individual officers dictated that “there was no one way of doing things.” By studying the FBI “Officers Killed Summary; each murder of a police officer reduced to a paragraph. It came complete with graphs and charts detailing the day of the week, the hour of the day, assignment (patrol, traffic, detectives), and years of experience.

We came up with some general rules. Individuals who killed police officers oftentimes chose the time and place, armed robbery; bank, liquor store, burglary; target residence. Knowing this, the responding officer had to first control himself and his approach to the situation. We identified subtle tactics that officers could use to increase the ability to effectively respond to threats.We emphasized managing threats, avoiding or mitigating them where possible. If an officer put himself at risk it was a conscious decision, part of a plan and not something the officer stumbled into. There were regional differences, but there were commonalities of approach that indicated we were on the right track.

Things started changing about the time Rodney King took his ass-whooping at the hand of LAPD.It shouldn’t have happened. But the officers were only following policy. It was policy destined to fail with the Rodney Kings of this world.

Rodney failed to stop for the police, what followed was a chase. When Rodney finally stopped, the officers gave him verbal instructions and he was non-compliant. I am firmly convinced that Rodney wasn’t intentionally disobeying the officers. He was incapable of communicating, at any level. He knew he didn’t want to be in his current situation, so he wasn’t. I’ve seen this happen about three times. I don’t know where these folks go but they are not in the here and now occupied by the police. Often times the resistance is directed inwards. A cop knows he’s been in a fight when the suspect flops down on his stomach with his hands underneath him and he is clasping his forearms. Typically, these people are unresponsive to verbal commands, any fancy pain compliance techniques, chemical devices and electronic devices. What remains is brute force three or four cops on each arm trying to drag the suspect into a handcuffing position.

LAPD policy, at the time, was to give a verbal command, no response follow up with a strike with a nightstick, no compliance, strike, no compliance strike. That is what they did. Striking a suspect may lead to compliance but doesn’t necessarily establish physical control. LAPD was trying to eliminate the wrestling match on the sidewalk because officers were being injured and killed in that final stage of handcuffing control.

The writer almost got it right. As police officers, we are never going to shift the odds to 100%, but we can aim for better than 50%. A person can be concerned about officer safety and realize the truth that officer safety isn’t the mission. A person can believe blue lives matter and understand that accepting sometimes extraordinary risk is part of the job. A person can support the police and still demand a very high level of tactical and strategic awareness even from the youngest officers. To put them on the street is to declare to the public that they are up to the job.

Over the past three years, as the issue of police shootings has come to periodically dominate American discourse, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern. While many controversial police shootings are lawful and justifiable, many others would be surprising to see in a war zone, much less in the streets of America’s cities. Some of the names come easily to mind — Philando Castile, Daniel Shaver, Walter Scott, and (most recently) Stephon Clark.

Where the writer missed making his point is including Stephon Clark among the victims ala Black Lives Matter (BLM). Stephon Clark was a convicted felon prowling a neighbourhood and observed committing a felony by the helicopter crew. He ran from police trying to stop him. When officers cornered him in a backyard, he charged the officers ignoring their repeated lawful commands, while brandishing what the officers thought was a gun. Clark brought the fight to the officers and they obliged him. Clark knew what the consequences of his action would be and did it anyway suicide by


The liberals assured the rest of us that if police were equipped with cameras there would be no controversy. They got their cameras in Sacremento. The body cameras were fairly useless. What I did get was the calmness of the officers, as they communicated and upgraded plans. The real value was the FLIR of the incident. Look closely and you can see that the initial burst of gunfire missed the target. The bullets are the little white things dancing at his feet.

BLM got their cameras, didn’t make a difference. They’ve got increased awareness on the part of the police. Maybe what is really needed is a shift in focus. How about not automatically giving the brothers a by when they rampage through a neighbourhood, make them take responsibility. Suicide by cop is getting old and a cliche.

BLA you say you are about diversity, show it! Since many of these incidents happen in urban environments, encourage the brothers to think outside the box. If you’re gonna go, go mass transit. Stepping in front of a subway train or metro bus will get you just as dead and the ghetto lottery payout should be about the same.