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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 6:01 pm | Rain Fog/Mist 60º


Ron Fink: Cops Have a Hard Enough Job; Don’t Make It Any Tougher on Them

Enforcing our laws is a tough business. There are tens of thousands of laws that apply to every aspect of our lives. All of them were developed and approved by elected officials at the federal, state and local levels as the result of public pressure to “do something about crime.”

Once the laws are in place, the political entities hire federal agents, marshals, deputy sheriffs, highway patrol officers, fish and game agents, police officers and constables to enforce the law. This is where the perception begins and the people being policed somehow think it’s the cops who are the problem and not the folks who disobey all those laws.

Let’s start with the minor crimes like running a stop sign or talking on your cell phone while driving. Most people don’t think that these are serious issues, but the reason we have these laws is because doing either of these things has proven to cause car crashes, some very serious. So it’s the cops who have to enforce the law, and it’s the violators who can’t understand why they are being stopped for such a minor offense and often plead with officers to “go catch some real criminals.”

But there are other crimes that require the attention of the police, too. When someone robs your house or business you call the police and demand that they catch whoever did it. In this case, the police are on your side and you want swift justice. If you are the burglar, on the other hand, you’ll want to hide and avoid the police.

Then we enter into the world of violent crime: rape, spousal abuse, assaults with a deadly weapon, strong-arm robbery, kidnapping and murder, to name a few. People who commit these crimes are prone to violence and in many cases forcefully resist arrest.

When officers contact the perpetrators of all these crimes they get different reactions, anything from “oh darn you caught me” to the kinds of physical confrontations that always seem to make the headlines in print and the nightly news on your favorite media outlet. Tens of thousands of peaceful arrests are made each day that you never hear about.

Police officers are taught that when talking with law breakers that you react to the actions of the accused. If the person is docile then officers speak with them in softer yet authoritative tones. The goal is to not allow the situation to become physically confrontational.

If on the other hand the suspect is belligerent, then the actions of the officer become more aggressive as he/she tries to effect an arrest. In almost all of the cases involving a police shooting, the actions of the suspect play out in a few seconds and the officer has to decide what level of force to use. Many of these confrontations occur in the nighttime when visibility is poor.

Officer-involved shootings seem to confuse the public. Why did the officer have to shoot the person who was swinging a bat at them, trying to slash them with a knife or pulls a gun? Couldn’t they have used another method such as asking the person to put down the weapon or offering a cup of coffee in return for a peaceful surrender?

These solutions are irrational. If someone is in the mood to violently confront an armed officer, he or she is beyond the point where peaceful intervention will likely be successful. Police always order the suspect to “drop the weapon,” but if the crook presents a clear and present danger to both the police and general public anything less than lethal force won’t mitigate the problem.

The national debate is now centered on a discussion of why black criminals are being shot by the police. Missing from the protesters' dialogue is any factual evidence to support their case. Of course, if you are a street organizer or a pandering politician facts don’t matter — it’s only the cause that matters.

These protests are shrill in the extreme and only tend to foment more anger among people who pay little attention to the circumstances that led to the shooting. These same critics seem to have little concern that murders of black people by other black people are substantially higher than any other.

I think it is irresponsible of our elected leaders to take sides. The politicians' role should be to investigate and provide policy changes if they are warranted. Unfortunately, some politicians, most notably Democrat politicians, seem to be strongly influenced by professional race baiters instead of taking an objective look at the situation.

America needs to calm down; politicians need to avoid saying anything until all the facts are in. The cops have a hard enough job; don’t make it any tougher on them.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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