By now I would imagine that most of my Gentle Readers have seen, or heard of, the incident at the University of California in which a student got tasered.
The part of the Internet that I frequent is all agog about this -- on one side you have the inevitable screams of "Police Brutality! Woe!" and on the other you have the folks who are just as passionately defending the actions of the officers.
This will be no surprise to my long-term Gentle Readers, but I fall in both camps.
This little scene is an example of the unintended consequences of the "Californization" of the police in this country. It is what happens when -- due to fear of lawsuits, fear of bad media coverage, or whatever -- your officers are afraid to put their hands on someone.
During every arrest there are two separate periods of time. The first, which always happens, is the "talking phase". This is when you speak to the arrestee. It is during this time that you talk to him, negotiate with him, make deals or whatever. This is usually all that is required to make an arrest.
The second phase is the "laying on of hands" phase. This is when talking to the subject fails. This is when you snatch ahold of the arrestee, OC him, taser him, beat the everloving whey out of him, whatever is necessary to gain control of the situation.
This doesn't happen with all arrests -- but, during the "laying on of hands" the talking part is over and done. There is no negotiation, making deals, or asking for co-operation once the talking has failed.
This didn't happen during the California arrest.
You can quite clearly hear the officer asking the arrestee to get up -- negotiating with him -- after they stuck taser darts in him.
Sweet Shivering Shiva!
Once you taser him, you don't ask him to do a damned thing -- you get ahold of him and you make him do what needs to be done.
Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to avoid the appearance of beating the stupid out of people, officers are trying to gain compliance without actually -- you know -- grabbing the subject and twisting things. Or -- Goddess forefend -- doing anything that involves impact trauma.
As it so happens, I have had a situation or two much like this one in my career. Allow me to describe one such, and then compare the two situations.
We got a call about a subject in an area where he was no longer welcome.
I show up, talk to the person who called in the report and then go inform the subject that he is no longer welcome and that it is time to leave.
He does not wish to go.
I repeat myself, and I further offer to help him return some things to their proper location so as to chivvy him along.
Again, he demurs. Rights were mentioned.
I inform him that if he does not leave, I will arrest him for Criminal Trespass.
His reply is short, terse, and anatomically improbable.
We have now departed the "talking stage".
I inform the subject that he is under arrest, and I tell him to stand up and place his hands behind his back. I take a firm grip on his wrist and bicep as I do this and lift up, reinforcing my order to stand.
The subject attempts to jerk his arm out of my grasp, so I armbar him -- incidentally causing his face to meet the table top right smartly -- snap the 'cuffs on the arm I have glommed on to and then crank firmly on the shoulder, while ordering him to give me his other hand.
There is some yelling and gnashing of teeth, but the subject becomes properly handcuffed and I take a firm grip on his arm to lead him to the cruiser, but he collapses to his knees and then to his side, shrieking, wailing, crying out to the Deity of his choice and begging aid from by-standers.
I reached down, locked in a come-along hold known as a "C-Clamp" and the intense pain combined with my tug caused the critter to jump to his feet.
We take about two steps, and then the critter again falls to his knees, while simultaneously shrieking, "I'm not resisting! I'm not resisting! I'm not resisting!"
This blatant lie caused me to get a firm grip on the hair at the back of his head with one paw, take a good twist of the back waistband of his knickers with the other and then cause the twain to meet -- thus neatly executing a tactical application of the Ancient Chinese Thermo-Nuclear Death Wedgie.
The subject chose to walk the rest of the way to my cruiser, albeit on his tippy-toes and uttering shrill squeaks every step of the way.
So. What do we have?
In Texas -- we have business as usual. The critter was offered a way out without arrest, when that failed he was given a chance to be arrested like a civilised human being, and when that failed he was snatched, hooked and booked. Five minutes, no muss-no fuss.
In California -- Sweet Holy Jeebus! I have brutally smashed this kids face into a wood table top; I have sadistically picked him up by the upper lip; and I have squashed his squishy bits flat as he walked to the patrol car.
In Texas -- the witnesses made statements along the lines of: "Next time he'll listen", "Bet he won't do that again", and "Cowboy up and walk it off".
In California -- Can you imagine what the Acolytes of Higher Learning in the Holy Mecca of Liberalism would have to say? "Police brutality", "Torture!", "Why didn't you just talk to him?!", "Oh, the humanity!"
In Texas, my actions required a one paragraph Incident Report that the Sheriff barely glanced over.
In California, particularly if the the little swine is non-Caucasoid, my boss would be under relentless media attack; special interest groups would spend a wheelbarrow load of money to metaphorically pillory me; and politicians not anywhere near my chain of command would be be subtly coercing my boss into doing "something to placate the voters".
Unintended consequences. California doesn't want it's cops beating people -- it's just not civilised or "forward-thinking" -- and they have used relentless Media pressure, legal pressure, and political pressure to eliminate police brutality.
Unfortunately, in their drive to destroy any appearance of police brutality in their State, they have lost sight of the fact that application of force is a bedrock part of peace officer duties. Application of force is the toolbox in and on which we base all of our duties.
They have redefined ALL laying on of hands by officers as police brutality.
As a result, they have officers who are terminally reluctant to grab ahold of a subject, and will do anything necessary to avoid any action that might even look in the slightest bit like an Old School Beatdown.
There is a huge gulf between laying hands on a non-complaint arrestee and kicking the spam out of him. This huge grey area is where Peace Officers exist and work.
When I have a subject in custody who refuses to stand up, I ask him twice -- maybe three times -- to stand up, and if he demurs, then I get ahold of him and I stand him up. And he's not going to like the experience.
Those officers asked the subject to stand up. He refused. They don't want to touch him (police brutality). So, what does that leave them? OC? Ye gods. What else? Whack him with a baton? Talk about police brutality! So, what's left? Well, the taser doesn't involve rhythmic swings of the arm (with accompanying thuds and grunts), it doesn't require the officers to twist anatomy the wrong way, and it doesn't require much of a scuffle in which the subject might wind up with bruises that would have to be explained in front of a Review Board consisting of people who don't know the first thing about scuffles.
Taser, it is, by default.
And then they asked him to stand up. And he refused. So they tasered him again. And then they asked him to stand up. He refused. Same choices as last time -- they tasered him. Again. And then they asked him to stand up ...
Do I blame the officers? Yes. I blame them for not walking into the library, telling the little whelp that it is time to leave and when he refused, arresting him, handcuffing him -- dragging him to the floor if necessary -- and frog-marching him out the door. Five minutes. I've done it before.
I also blame them for failing to adapt and improvise a way to deal with the little twerp that didn't involve four seperate taser discharges while officers stood around and asked him to comply with orders.
Yet, at the same time, I blame the special-interest groups, the Media, the lawyers and the politicians for creating an atmosphere where repeatedly tasering a subject while demanding compliance looks -- and seems -- preferable to simply hooking him up and dragging him out the door by his nostrils.
Just my two pennies worth.