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« Security Jeniuses | Main | Texas Surgical Medicine »

July 24, 2005

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Mithras: You can call me a racist idiot if you think that's a deep thought, but I'm guessing you have (a) never been in a gun battle, (b) never been in a situation where you had to make a life and death (your OR somebody else's) decision in seconds based on limited information, (c) never gone through police or military firearms training, and (d) not studied the history of what happens at checkpoints. In the last case MANY soldiers have died because they hesitated to shoot. In the USA, many cops have died, as well, because they decided not to shoot: but somehow civil rights groups don’t get upset over that. Please don't tell me that in your day job--with no life and death calls--you are 100% perfect. The bad guys here are the terrorists who create a climate of fear and the "community" that condones them.

You can call me a racist idiot if you think that's a deep thought, but I'm guessing you have (a) never been in a gun battle...

There was a gun battle? That's news to me and, um, everyone else.

Now I'm not claiming it's a "deep thought" or that you would recognize one should one ever occur to you but I do think Mithras has you pegged on the "idiot" charge. I'm not about to go reading your archives so I'll take his word for it on the "racist" part too. HAND

Wow, that Althouse person is dumber than a box of rocks.

I'm sorry that you don't want to discuss facts, but you just want to call me names. Yes, I question the media and government (George Bush!) consensus that "a vast majority of Muslims" oppose terrorism. I say that has not been proven--many liberals and Muslims agree with me. And Muslims are not a "race."

Many decades ago, during the first GWOT (starring Carlos the Jackal -- remember him?) I was an Air Force pilot in a squadron providing VIP transportation. For a period of about a year during the mid-70s we were armed: one pilot on each crew carried a .38 revolver. The first three rounds in the cylinder were "shortstop" rounds made of thin plastic with a filler of sand. The other three rounds were hollowpoints.

The shortstop rounds would allegedly knock someone down and stun him. Seems like this would do the trick in a lot of close-quarters police situations. I know rubber bullets are popular in the riot control business. Clearly I don't understand all the relevant factors, but I do wonder why nonlethal solutions don't get more consideration from the law enforcement community.

BTW, the USAF armed pilot experiment was sensibly discontinued after a couple of incidents where pistols were dropped on the ramp or on the floor of the crew bus.

Seems to me we're missing a point about the victim here. He ran from the police. Why?

Well, with the terror alert high, recent events fresh in peoples' minds, and the police liable to do who knows what, what would an immigrant think? If he stops, he's likely to be jailed indefinitely without specific charges, "rendered" to a torture-friendly country (and, God help us, that includes the US), or possibly manhandled or even executed on the street. People who are afraid do not always think clearly, and people who are afraid and have been followed from home by a group of grim-looking men without uniforms identifying themselves as officers of the "law" might just panic and run when that's the last thing they should do.

And the policemen had their own "reality," which is that a swarthy, foreign-looking man in a jeans jacket that might or might not have covered an explosive charge is running away from them, into a subway train, and ignoring orders to stop. The better part of valor and all, so pop him! He's probably involved in terror (note that they immediately and reflexively announced that he was) and he's running and we can't take a chance.

A meeting of realities, but the unarmed man paid dearly for his reality. As a song I heard once says,

"When a rock falls on an egg,
Too bad, too bad for the egg.
But when an egg falls on a rock,
Too bad for the egg."


Perhaps the knowledge that there are good reasons to run from a policeman in terror times will resonate with both the police and those who might fear them.

It's a tragedy in any case.


Ed

I suggest everyone on the web who is mouthing off about what police should have done...should volunteer for their local police reserve. spend some time in a squad car, face situations where you have little or no information and have to make life or death decisions in seconds. also, you will learn that YOU NEVER know if someone is ARMED until you actually search them. There are many dead cops who did not live to learn that lesson.

Racist idiot math:
Dark skin + running away from cops + no weapon visible = tapped in the head eight times.

"The bad guys here are the terrorists who create a climate of fear and the "community" that condones them."

Yes, terrorists bad. We're all clear on that. But we are helping them immensely in their efforts to terrorize us by being so freaking terrified. I am so sick of people from red states spouting off about security, as though Rapid City or Ames, Iowa is under some imminent threat of attack. You have better odds of winning the lottery than being attacked by terrorists. Most of the people who really HAVE been attacked in this country and are the most likely to be attacked again are democrats. I personally saw the plane hit the pentagon as I was driving to work and I'm not peeing myself every time an Arabic man walks by me on one of the two subway systems in the country that is actually under ANY appreciable danger. The day of the London attacks I took the metro and I had a moment of nerves approximately equal to the moment before the dentist gives you the novacaine shot. I wish people would just grow a pair.

The British police are among the most experienced at anti-terrorism operations in the world ( thanks to the IRA) while being the least trigger-happy. They didn't run out to shoot the first dark skinned immigrant who looked at them funny but to track down a group of real terrorists who were on the move to kill as many people as possible.

What happened in London was tragic but the shooting tactic being currently employed by British police has actuarial logic behind it for minimizing the havoc caused by suicide-bomber teams. It is used in Sri Lanka and it saves civilian lives though admittedly the suicide bomber problem is far worse there because of the Tamil Tiger insurgency than London's experience with al Qaida ( so far).

Anyone who views the British police here as maliciously inspired bad actors has a moral screw loose.

Anyone who views the British police here as maliciously inspired bad actors has a moral screw loose.

Then they are fuckups. Is that better?

Actuarial logic: a serious number of guys on death row have the middle name of Wayne. Let's go shoot all the Waynes to make the citizenry safe from these marauding Waynes.

More actuarial logic: You're (way) over 1000 times more likely to die in a car crash than from a terrorist attack. Would you like me to come shoot your tires?

Mild wrote:

"Actuarial logic: a serious number of guys on death row have the middle name of Wayne. Let's go shoot all the Waynes to make the citizenry safe from these marauding Waynes"

This would only be analagous not if there were a group of guys randomly ending up on death row with the middle name of Wayne but rather a known and defined number of Waynes who were actively running free and working in concert so as to kill people within a limited geographic area. With that sort of information police have a decent set of odds to stop suicide-bombers before they detonate in a subway car or restaurant.

Mithras:

Yes, that's better.

Mark,
Anecdote is not evidence, of course, but what I see is that the one person shot to death by British police is not a terrorist, much less a suicide bomber. False positives sort of undermine my faith in the procedure. Especially when the failure is fatal.

I am admittedly not a security guy. I am just a lawyer. But it seems to me that before one shoots someone, one must perceive a real threat. If they had specific information on this guy, and he engaged in the behavior the papers originally reported, by all means, zero him out. If someone had seen wires or evidence of a bomb belt and he had run despite officers' orders, then shoot - hell, I might say tap him without warning.

But as far as we know in this case - and the story seems to change hourly - they shot Menezes based on (a) clothing, (b) running from officers, and (c) race. Seems unwise. Seems ineffective. Seems unjust.

Even worse, if the cousin in the link I posted above is to be believed, Menezes didn't jump a turnstile and wasn't wearing a padded jacket. The already-shaky details they were hanging the justification on may not actually, you know, have happened. If that's true, it's murder.

"This would only be analagous not if there were a group of guys randomly ending up on death row with the middle name of Wayne but rather a known and defined number of Waynes who were actively running free and working in concert so as to kill people within a limited geographic area."

Those are facts that relate to the terrorists but not to the profile of the terrorists, which is what you were talking about (except the geographic area, and I could probably limit my example to Texas, e.g.). There's not a known and defined number at all, and the fact that terrorists work in concert is not part of who the cops profile in the subway, at least not in this case. And the point I was trying to make was that if you shoot people due to a confluence of statistical markers, innocent people are going to get shot. The universe of dark-complected people wearing nonbulky jackets is pretty large (and those seem to be the only factors used here). I don't think the cops were malicious, but the mistake they made was tragic (for them as well as Jean).

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