When Dallas Police Chief David Brown said recently that we’re asking too much of cops, he meant we’re demanding the impossible.
Not only are we asking the blue to salve a variety of societal ills, we have also put officers in a perpetual catch-22.
On the one hand, we expect them to sniff out horrors before they happen. On the other, we have restricted their instincts and their ability to use past experiences to predict future events.
Across the decades a few rogue officers have certainly committed atrocious injustice against civilians of all races. But most agents enter law enforcement because they believe in order and rightness. They want to give and serve.
Most are like Boerne Police Officer Jason Abbott. He and other local law enforcement faced a catch-22 in recent weeks.
Gun advocates are scattering the countryside to flex their Second Amendment rights. They are walking populated streets of various jurisdictions with arms overtly born. One carried a rifle through Boerne recently with his cell phone camera rolling.
The law allows open carrying so long as no alarm is caused. Unfortunately, defining alarm is about as subjective as choosing the best breakfast taco in San Antonio.
What I find alarming is different than what my six-year-old finds alarming. Yet, cops must decide what’s actually alarming.
The rifle-carrying activist posted his interactions with officers on YouTube. You could tell by his tone he wanted a tussle. “Am I being detained, officer?” he asked as Abbott approached him near the intersection of Main and Blanco.
“No, sir,” Abbott responded respectfully. “I just want to ask you some questions.”
“I feel like I’m being detained. My rights are being violated,” the visitor replied with profanity mixed in.
“If you’ll stay calm, I just want to have a dialogue. Is the gun loaded?” Abbott inquired.
The gentleman pleaded the Fifth Amendment for a moment, but then couldn’t help himself.
The remainder of the video consists of the activist lecturing Officer Abbott on how he should handle calls from concerned citizens about people like him.
It also shows Abbott explaining that he is not taking away anyone’s rights by approaching the subject of another citizen’s call to determine whether a safety concern exists.
Tactfully, Abbott kept the interaction subdued. He seemed to understand that simply allowing passionate voices to be heard usually defuses their intensity.
This situation represents the classic quandary cops face:
Intervene when a situation is safe and get accused of harassment and rights violations; fail to intervene when something is wrong and get accused of missing the chance to stop a tragedy.
I asked a good friend and San Antonio policeman how he’s changed as an officer in recent years.
“I’m less proactive. I’m still willing to lay down my life to protect innocent people like those guys in Dallas did, but I’m more cautious. We all are. That’s why violent crime is up nationwide, 17% in San Antonio this year.”
Along with Chief Brown in Dallas, my friend points to the absence of fathers as the primary driver of the disorder facing our nation. Officers know. They’re on the front lines everyday. They see the decay firsthand.
Meanwhile in ivory towers, distant leaders bark of background checks and gun control. They never mention the best form of gun control ever invented: fathers and sons going hunting together.
Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.