(INTELLIHUB) — This is a continuation of the first article entitled Law Enforcement and Use of Force – Part 1.
In order to understand any situation in which deadly force was used when there were suspected criminal activities or activities which law enforcement considers potentially criminal, more than one perspective must be examined.
Now, regardless of whether someone has committed a crime or not, the perspective of law enforcement personnel processing large amounts of data on the fly and making a decision in a few seconds is very difficult. Soldiers are often faced with similar scenarios. Their hearts are pumping, adrenaline floods the system and their lives are potentially on the line.
Now in instances when deadly force is used — and may have been avoided, policy and training should also be considered.
Why? Because many police departments are being federally funded and trained utilizing urban combat tactics against “non-friendlies,” versus learning domestic policing tactics, so there are obviously training issues which begin at the federal and administrative levels. Urban combat tactics usually do not include de-escalation procedures, You simply neutralize the threat. Finished.
This is demonstrative of the federalization and militarization of local law enforcement agencies.
Secondly, when departments are outfitted with combat-level weaponry and transports, such as RPGs and MRAPs, they facilitate the creation of a combat mind-frame in the members of their rapid response teams and even more so if any of those law enforcement personnel were deployed abroad.
Soldiers literally auto-initiate a different psychological state which enhances their situational awareness, enter the “zone,” and get the thousand-mile stare. Gearing up, whether you are a boxer lacing on gloves or a pro-football player donning shoulder pads does trigger a different psychological state. It puts one in a different mind-frame.
Now from the perspective of a soldier, this is good if one is kicking down doors in a foreign hot-zone, but creating ta like psychological state for urban combat in heavily populated areas here in the U.S. is overkill, literally and sometimes unfortunately — in reality.
Law enforcement personnel have a dangerous job. Over the years I have had contact with people from all branches of law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies in several countries. I think that the majority of them are great people who selflessly serve their country and communities. I think that if we want to examine the use of force on the street-level, that it has to begin by examining policy which is set from above.
That being said, while I am a supporter of state and local law enforcement I also think that some of our federal agencies have compartmentalized units which have gone totally rogue and now engage in criminal acts detrimental to the citizenry due to lack of oversight and a more narrow view of our constitutional rights — or lack thereof.
Despite that fact, I still maintain respect and admiration for those that do their job while adhering to the letter of the law. There are a few bad apples in every barrel and we should not let the mistakes and transgressions of a few poison our perspective towards the others who do their jobs while adhering to a strict code of ethics.
The LaVoy Finicum cellphone video was released last week. I can view the entire situation from two perspectives. Do I think deadly force was used unnecessarily in his case and with the other occupants of the vehicle. Absolutely.
The placement of the agents and their potential to get hit by crossfire, in addition to the positioning of the roadblock is evidence that law enforcement did not use the best judgment in Finicum’ s take-down.
Would it have not been easier, once the vehicle was snow-banked to shoot a gas canister into the vehicle — or possibly even a flash-bang? There are many questions which have been generated by both videos – the one from the cellphone and the other from the FBI. One might also ask though, if LaVoy was unarmed and the FBI was worried about the legality of the take-down, why wasn’t that cellphone with its video confiscated as evidence?
While I am not saying it establishes the innocence of the FBI agents, it does bring light to the fact that LaVoy could very well have been armed. It isn’t definitive, but if he was not armed, and excessive/deadly force had been used, I would think that the FBI would have confiscated that phone as part of the “official investigation” and “crime scene evidence.”
Now let’s examine another aspect of the Oregon stand-off. The protestors were holed up on a wildlife refuge. They were armed and were occupying federal property. Shouldn’t the venue for resolving that be in court, versus in the back-woods – by people who aren’t even residents of the state.
Secondly, if this federal property had been in a metropolitan area, such as Los Angeles – and these guys had shown up with weapons, would the general population still see it as an act of “civil disobedience?” I don’t think so.
Can one engage in “civil disobedience” if one is armed? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I would suspect that possession of a weapon might fall outside the definition of that term. You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, and you don’t bring a gun to a protest, because that unto itself sends a signal that you might not be there just to “protest.”
The law is on the side of the government until one can prove otherwise – and the best place to do that is in court. I am not making a statement that this is fair, ethical or right, I am just making a statement about how the courts and government interpret these situations.
And another point is this, whether the law enforcement officers are local, state or federal, they do have to deal with real hard-core criminal scumbags who intend to harm them, and their lives are in danger from time to time.
There is a very fine line in these situations and for purposes of self-preservation I believe that they maintain a “him or me attitude” and prefer to neutralize a potential threat than not go home, even if their decision is second-guessed at a later point in time.
I am not saying this is correct or incorrect, I am simply stating a fact and what I believe to be the rationale process in the heat of the moment.
The best place to either initiate or enter a debate with law enforcement is in court, versus on the street. Some will maintain that the odds are stacked against the average citizen within the system, and that may very well be true. But aren’t the odds even more stacked against an individual who defies law enforcement via a standoff on the street, especially if they have been known to carry a firearm?
As a final note I would like to say that unfortunate consequences deriving from civilian-police interaction are not specific to any one race or ethnic group, and LaVoy Finicum would certainly testify to that fact if he were around today.
The author of this article, who prefers to use the nom de plume “XKeyscore” in order to maintain his anonymity, is a Doctoral Candidate and multiglot with two Master’s Degrees and a Baccalaureate specializing in Middle Eastern Studies. He holds one Master’s Degree specializing in Intelligence and Counter-intelligence operations, and a second Master’s Degree in Security Studies. XKeyscore has studied under a United States intelligence agency analyst and now-retired, high ranking, American military officers. XKeyscore writes exclusively for Intellihub News & Politics. Read more articles by this author here.