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Unacceptable Police Procedure- the Deadly Game of Simon Says

January 11, 2018

Innocent civilians are at risk from the police. We’ve had egregious examples in recent months. This is how we can fix these broken police policies, and this is why it’s urgent.

-The police receive a report of a crime in progress. The report is a lie. The person on the phone with the police has made about 20 false reports. The police arrive at your home. It is the middle of the night and you hear yelling from outside. You walk outside to see what is going on. Voices from the darkness say they are the police. Multiple police officers give commands. The police are approximately 35 yards from you. You can’t see them or the police cars.  All you see are bright lights and you hear voices. One policeman loses sight of one of your hands. Since you might be going for a weapon, you’re shot dead by police. This happened in Kansas.

-You hear a knock at the door in the middle of the night. You aren’t expecting anyone. You are a law abiding gun owner without a criminal record. You walk to the door armed. That is what self-defense experts, and even some police officers, suggest you do in this situation.  A policeman sees you through the sidelights.  He is outside your home and you are inside. The policeman sees your gun and shoots you dead. You never made it to the door. This happened in Florida.

These and similar incidents illustrate a dangerous pattern. The police treat possible threats as lethal threats. They then kill unarmed and innocent civilians without warning. The murder is often preceded by a lethal game of simon-says where the police issue commands until the innocent civilian makes a mistake and is killed. In several fatal examples, there were no actual threats of any kind to the police officers involved.

We are in this situation because of qualified immunity. Qualified Immunity is a legal defense where government officials are held harmless if they followed established procedures. Ordinary citizens do not have this legal immunity. You and I would be held criminally negligent if we did what the police do. We are lucky to have a cure.

We use simulators to train law enforcement when to shoot and when not to shoot. This reality based training is extremely useful in exposing weaknesses in police policy and in officer training. Now we can use these simulators to fix broken police procedures, but with a twist. We need to put a few civilians through the simulators, not the police.

We have many recordings of officers arresting civilians. We know what they say. We want to expose ordinary citizens to these simulations and capture the results as the citizens respond.

By ordinary citizens I mean Walmart shoppers. We want to test the people most likely to come in contact with the police. Let’s record how they respond with flashing lights, loud noise and conflicting unexpected commands. There are many use-of-force instructors who can look at the multiple videos and tally-up the number of times these innocent citizens would have been shot by police who were “just following procedures”. How many innocent civilians should we sacrifice? One out of a million, or one out of five?

“Just following procedures” sounds too much like “just following orders” to me, but I could be wrong. The reality based simulations will show us. They will establish how many civilians are shot while officers are “just following accepted police procedures”. Police agencies might not generate and release this data but you can be sure that lawyers representing the dead person’s family certainly will.

We don’t have to guess if police procedures are safe and effective. We can measure them.

If your city council thought that training and testing is expensive, wait until they see what jury verdicts cost. Although “procedures” are the basis for qualified immunity, those procedures can, are, and will be challenged in court by plaintiffs’ lawyers through expert testimony.

Lawyers will try to show that the police didn’t follow their own procedures and that the  procedures as taught are not best practice. Police training departments MUST keep up with any new trends, from “non/less-lethal weapons to new verbal techniques in dealing with suspects, bystanders, and even pet dogs.

Thanks to my friends Greg Hopkins and David Cole for their comments. All opinions and errors are mine and may not reflect their beliefs. RM

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Reginald Hafner permalink
    January 12, 2018 8:36 am

    The cops are also civilians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • john permalink
      January 12, 2018 12:07 pm

      Maybe when they were peace officers, but not since they became law enforcement officers have they legitimately been civilians

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tcbobg permalink
    January 12, 2018 11:02 am

    Yeah, it’s the conflicting orders thing that’s most dangerous. Two amped up guys are pointing guns at you. One’s, screaming, “Freeze! Don’t move a muscle!” The other one’s yelling, “Get on the ground, now!” Talk about a rock and a hard place . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack permalink
      January 13, 2018 3:45 pm

      They can’t shoot you if you don’t move. I’d tell “get on the ground” guy to go fuck himself.


  3. Gary L Griffiths permalink
    January 13, 2018 11:50 am

    Excellent article. I trained law enforcement officers in the judgmental use of force for close to 20 years. The two biggest failings in law enforcement training I observed were failure to use cover (thus increasing officer risk and the likelihood of a hasty response) and inadequate verbal commands. I’ve heard officers yell “Hands! Hands! Hands!” and then try to convince me that anyone should know that they meant “Show me your hands!” Moreover, “Show me your hands” is a dangerous command. If the suspect has a weapon and turns towards the officer to show his or her hands, the officer is likely to shoot upon seeing the weapon, or risk being shot if he or she hesitates. What’s worse, the officer is MORE likely to shoot an innocent person than a criminal who knows better than to turn a weapon towards the officer.

    Police should use four commands: “Police! Don’t Move!” “Turn Around” (or, ‘Don’t Turn Around’ – face the suspect away from you). “Put Your Hands In The Air!” “Put The Weapon Down!” (if weapon is observed. Simple commands, easy to understand and comply with.


    • January 13, 2018 12:56 pm

      Hello, Garry.
      Thank you for your service and your thoughtful comments. I wonder why this issue was not addressed a long time ago.


  4. snafubar permalink
    January 13, 2018 1:14 pm

    The young guy who was a pest control worker is a perfect example of trigger happy cops. Someone reported seeing the guy with a gun (pellet gun for rodents).

    Young guy did EXACTLY what the trigger happy cop told him to do and the cop killed him anyways.

    It was an execution, basically, very sad to watch. And no, the victim was not black.


    • Alan permalink
      January 14, 2018 10:36 pm

      And whatever happened to that possibly “trigger happy” though perhaps more likely overly impressed with his newly found authority, seemingly without responsibility therefore cop?


  5. Alan permalink
    January 14, 2018 6:57 pm

    Who or what was it that created and foisted off on the public the “established procedures”, or re “established procedures” which seemingly include the killing of the innocent, how did they come to be “established”?


  6. Alan permalink
    January 14, 2018 7:08 pm

    Another point comes to mind, something for the police forces to consider long and had. Should the antics of so,e of their number serve to turn the public against them, there being many more of the people than there are of police, how long do they reasonably expect to last?


  7. January 14, 2018 7:50 pm

    It shouldn’t be the taxpayers paying the judgments, it should be the police pension fund.


    • Alan permalink
      January 14, 2018 10:33 pm

      Good point, though I would not try holding my breath waiting for that to happen.


  8. Alan permalink
    January 15, 2018 4:08 pm

    Should it come to pass that the majority of the populace turn against government, aka the forces of law and order as they are sometimes known, there will be esentially one primary cause for that sad state of affairs. That “government” or whatever one might choose to call it, made one to many masses in the middle of the living room carpet. Please note that I use the above turn of phrase in order to stay within the bounds of polite conversation. Some would use saltier terminology that I too am familiar with. Better as above written though, or so I think.


  9. Alan permalink
    January 15, 2018 4:15 pm

    It seems that respecting some locales, the police are either unable or unwilling, perhaps both, to clean their own house, a sad situation indeed, one that must be addressed and fixed via proper and reasoned procedures. To avoid taking the above necessary action, which will include getting rid of some bad apples, police agencies run the risk, in my view, of loosing the whole damned tree, which would indeed be a sad thing to see.

    Liked by 1 person


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