What happened on April 20, 1999? Law enforcement may not recall the date, but we know the outcome. It’s when our patient world of Contain, Control & De-escalate shifted to a pursuing response of Active Shooters. Overnight, SWAT took a back seat to the Patrol Officer, as rapid response required immediate deployment to neutralize the threat.
The nation was so shocked following the Columbine High School massacre that no one seemed to mind the tactical and equipment shift to better arm first responding beat cops for confronting weapon wielding madmen.
What a difference the world of policing has experienced from Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook.
Not only has the political climate tugged the rug from under our collective battered police boots, but the cultural tenor begs we lay down our arms. Or at least keep them holstered until a video review can be debated over social media.
Global terror has landed square in the lap of the good old red, white and blue. Our fighting military forces, God bless them are the best on this planet, but this is not their battle.
Had every Navy SEAL been stationed just 110 miles south at Coronado, there’s still no way they could’ve activated to respond to the Inland Regional Center. The United States military’s function is not to provide domestic, civil law enforcement services.
It’s the beat officer writing the citation a few blocks away and the motor cop working the car crash at the intersection that will drop everything to respond.
In San Bernardino, as in Columbine, local law enforcement were the first responders during the period of crisis. Even our brothers and sisters in the federal alphabet soup of law enforcement are post-incident response at best.
A 2013 FBI report stated there was 1 active shooter incident every 3 weeks. Who responded? The same local cops still taking criticisms from video voyeurs running in the opposite direct of the danger.
Big Blue, you’ve got a choice to make. On top of everything else heaped on your backs, have you got the legs to carry the hometown battles to terrorists?
We’ll be asked in a few months what happened on December 02, 2015. Most will scratch their heads. But we’ll know. It’s the day the game changed.
Join me at Chief Scott Silverii, PhD
The Donut and San Bernardino
NOTE: I originally wrote this for my Facebook page, which has since gone viral across the web. I wanted to share it with you – it’s been copy pasted in the original content from my page at Chief Scott Silverii, PhD.
As a non-fan of professional baseball I always thought how ridiculous it was when players stepped on deck and began swinging their bat with the weighted ring (donut) on it.
Good thing I’m not the commissioner of baseball.
It’s the same thing with the “militarization” of American police.
The danger of allowing observers and non-fans of law enforcement to dictate practice and procedure is that when cops are dispatched on deck to face a pitcher throwing 500 mph fastballs instead of the 92mph pitches they’re equipped for; they lose.
This isn’t the MLB. When cops lose, so does society. We don’t keep score in earned runs but in lives lost.
Watching coverage of the San Bernardino terror incident, I noticed no one; not the media, witnesses, victims or the talking heads who spew hatred for sponsored endorsements had a thing to say about the bullet proof vests, ballistic helmets, rifles or the armored vehicles used to efficiently terminate the killers.
The same ones who change your flat tire, arrest your abusive spouse and swallow the resentment you show for the oath they swore, are who stopped the massacre of innocent people.
Does it make sense for a home run hitter to take the plate with a weighted donut wrapped around his wooden bat? No, not at all.
Just like it’s not good practice for cops to go battle gear forward for daily duty. But equipment is designed for a reason. Be it the donut or the APC, it’s there for a purpose.
Thankfully it was available in San Bernardino. Hopefully it’ll be available for the next massacre coming to a soft target near you.
You are on patrol and stop a car because the motorist was exceeding the posted speed limit by thirty miles per hour. You ask the driver for their driver’s license and registration.
You look through the driver’s window and they have a cell phone pointed at you recording the encounter. They refuse to comply with your lawful orders to exit the car. They claim you’ve broken the law by making the stop and wish to affect a citizen’s arrest.
What Would You Do? I Video You Too
You are an officer on patrol. Radio calls in home burglary. You arrive and see front door open.
Unknown if anyone is home, you rush in. A ten foot bear greets you at the bottom of the stairs.
What Would You Do?
FIT@50 / week 22
This week I made it official that after more than 25 years in the business it was time to heed God’s calling and retire from policing. Not an easy decision, it was all I’ve done my entire life. It’s all I knew and knew I was good at it.
Most friends, and even family have never known much about my career other than I always seemed to be working at it. They don’t know about the effects of working SWAT for 16 years.
The constant training and obsession with tactics to rescue victims or apprehend violent offenders. The thousands of rounds of ammo fired to become perfect at taking someone else’s life to protect another. The cold detachment of looking at a human being through the scope of your submachine gun, and then the expectation of going home and pretending like nothing special or horrific happened.
The 12 years spent working undercover narcotics and the dangers of a DEA assignment throughout the 1990s when New Orleans was more violent then than it is now. When federal undercover agents had to protect themselves from some of the local cops who were themselves more violent criminals than the criminals.
Sitting through family celebrations and holidays setting up drug buys under the facade of your undercover identity, while trying to pretend you were interested in what you got or gave your family for Christmas gift openings.
Bathrooms and back alleys exchanging marked money for illegal drugs, while sketchy technology seldom worked to alert your cover team to what was going down. Living the life of someone else, but going home to pretend a double-existence hadn’t affected your world view.
Oddly enough, those were some of my most treasured years in law enforcement. Existence within society’s very fringe, where you step back and forth between the life of service you swore to protect and the life you grieved in loss.
Most folks won’t know, or really have no interest in understanding how someone would thrive in an environment of constant risk. But it’s the risk, with life as it’s reward that pushes you to continue the service and sacrifice. It’s giving society everything you have in hopes of making it better – no matter the personal toll.
It doesn’t make us more important, just different. I’ve been blessed to have survived that life for many years. Carrying more scars on the inside than I do on the outside, and I promise my wife, Liliana Hart, one day soon, I’ll let those scars heal.
This is what retirement means to me – it’s my first chance in 25 years to take off that mask. The one that has hidden the hurt and the pain and the fear of what years in the service has done to the naively idealistic rookie who set out to not change the world, but to help everyone he could – one person at a time.
If the service is genuine, then the sacrifices are noble. There are thousands of good guys and girls out there that like me, only want to help everyone they can. They too accept the burden of wearing a mask, but hope one day soon that their retirement will allow them to unmask the cop, and return to being the son, daughter, brother, sister, father or mother and friend that society used to know.
You’re an officer issued a new body camera. Your spouse, partner, mate, etc says, “WOW, that’s exciting, lets use it to record during our lovemaking.”
What Would You Do?