Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Law Enforcement Officers Need To Be Smart --- Always!

On December 31, 2011, two uniformed deputies from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department (Florida), in separate marked units, were racing to the scene of a call. It must have been a very serious call because both of these deputies were hauling ass.

Both of the S.O. units were equipped with an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL). Most individuals would regard these sophisticated devices as an important officer safety tool. If an officer, or a deputy, were in trouble these devices might just help to save their lives. Others, like the two deputies involved in this incident, would probably disagree. To them, the AVLs were probably viewed as an impartial witness to their transgressions.

You see, according to the AVLs one deputy was traveling at a speed of 124 miles per hour. The other deputy's speed was a little less, just 119 miles per hour. What was the posted speed limit in the area where these two deputies were traveling? It was reportedly just forty-five (45) miles per hour.

The departmental investigation of this incident indicated that b
oth officers were traveling eastbound on State Road 20. Initially, Deputy "A" (the 119 m.p.h. deputy) was in the inside lane. Deputy "B" was behind Deputy "A" and near the intersection of State Road 20 and Twin Lake Grove Drive he moved his vehicle into the outside lane. Apparently, his intention was to pass his fellow deputy, but instead Deputy "B" lost control of his marked unit. After his vehicle spun out of control and crossed a concrete median, it came to rest in the westbound lanes of State Road 20.

The investigation revealed that when Deputy "B" lost control of his vehicle his AVL indicated that he was traveling at a speed of 124 miles per hour. The police vehicle reportedly sustained approximately one thousand dollars in damage to the vehicle's suspension and under carriage. Hell, considering the extreme speed that was involved, it seems to be a damn miracle that Deputy "B" wasn't killed, or seriously injured. And, thank God, his runaway and out of control vehicle did not kill or maim some innocent civilian either.

Putnam County Sheriff Hardy reportedly eventually stated, "We are very fortunate that no one was killed or severely injured as a result of these officers' reckless behavior and lack of judgment. Although accidents are often unavoidable, had these officers been operating their patrol cars at reasonable speeds, this traffic crash could have been prevented."

I imagine that at most police departments traveling at such a high and dangerous rate of speed, to a routine call for service, is a very serious violation of agency policy. After the administration investigation was concluded both deputies were dismissed from the Putnam County S.O. Deputy "A" had been employed with the S.O. for six (6) years. Deputy "B" had been with the S.O. for about one (1) year.

But, wait a second. What was the call these two deputies were racing to? Was it a life-threatening situation? A felony in-progress? Maybe these two deputies were risking their own lives, and the lives of the citizens around them, for a higher purpose.

Reportedly, the call for service they were responding to involved a complaint of noise from golf carts in the area of Hunter Road, in Hollister, Florida. Noisy golf carts? You've got to be kidding me! A law enforcement officer would risk their life, and the lives of innocent civilians, reference a noise complaint involving golf carts? How utterly absurd is that?

Today, with all the modern technology that is available, we in the law enforcement profession have to be more alert and careful than ever before. Unless we want our actions, or inaction, to be recorded and shown to a sometimes unforgiving world, we need to double our efforts to act as profession as possible. We need to be smart --- always!

I'm sorry, but driving over 100 miles per hour to a "routine" call for service, such as a noise complaint, is NOT being smart.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, these two deputies deserved to be fired.

Gary P. Jones, Captain [retired]
Fort Lauderdale Police Department

author of book: Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Real cops, in the real world, would never act like this! Would they?

I was really looking forward to the two-hour premiere of the new Alcatraz series, but then when I watched it Monday night I got turned off by something one of the main characters did --- but didn't do.

For those of you who didn't watch it, or don't even know what I'm talking about, this new series about Alcatraz takes place in the present, but there are also lots of flashbacks too. You see, back in March of 1963 Alcatraz, for a variety of reasons, was closed down and the prisoners housed there were moved to other correctional facilities --- or were they?

According to the storyline of this new series several hundred prisoners, along with dozens of guards too, just vanished. Now, these brutally vicious criminals were coming back from where ever they had been for the past 50 years. They hadn't aged and their mission was unclear. I found that this Alcatraz series reminded me a lot of the popular "Lost" series from a few years ago. There were lots of questions, and at least initially, very few answers.

One of the first Alcatraz alumni to suddenly reappear here in the present was Prisoner #2024, better known as Jack Sylvane. The first thing Jack did was to murder the ex-deputy warden of Alcatraz, a bad guy himself, with the last name of Tiller. He tormented Jack while he was at Alcatraz and it's easy to understand why Jack wanted him dead. Then, Jack heads out to murder another individual, although we don't know why.

Before Jack can carry out this second murder however, he is stopped by two officers from San Franciso P.D. Jack promptly shoots both officers, killing one and critically wounding the other. Then, he goes and kills the second individual who had originally been his intended target.

Now we come to Detective Rebecca Madsen, of San Franciso P.D. She is investigating the original murder of ex-Deputy Warden Tiller and she is just seconds behind Jack as he shoots the two officers, and then the other intended victim too.

Det. Madsen eventually tracks Jack Sylvane down and she finds him standing at the grave of his ex-wife. Jack has an automatic pistol in his right hand and initially he doesn't notice the arrival and approach of Det. Madsen.
"Now give me your gun and I won't blow your brains out," Det. Madsen tells Jack. Okay, so far, so good.

Jack looks at the gun in his right hand and he seems to shake his head from side to side as if to say "No." Det. Madsen doesn't give up.
"Give me the gun Jack," she begins again. "You don't want to hurt anyone else."
As this confrontational encounter takes place sirens can be heard in the background. More San Francisco P.D. officers are coming.

Det. Madsen and Jack talk some more and he admits to killing the two civilians. He even states, "I killed Tiller out of hate." But, he never mentions the two San Franciso cops he gunned down AND Det. Madsen, who is with San Fransciso P.D. herself, never even mentions them too. But, she does ask Jack about his second victim and why did he kill him.

"Where have you been? What happened to you Jack," Det. Madsen asks, as other heavily armed officers now move into position.
"Shoot me," Jack says to Det. Madsen. His words sound sad and it's almost as if he's begging her to do this.
"No" she says, as she shakes her head from side to side.

So far, I don't really have a major problem with the actions of Det. Madsen, although I still have to wonder a little about why she didn't ask Jack about why he shot the two San Franciso P.D. officers. If Jack were to live through this experience, and stand trial for the murder on that one officer, a verbal admission by him might have been nice to get. But, that's not really a major point. What happens next, however, is!

Jack the cop killer suddenly raises his right hand up and he points his automatic at Det. Madsen's head. I'm not sure, but it also sounded as if he cocked the gun too, as he was doing this. It also sounded as if Jack yelled, "Do it!" Det. Madsen's response?
"Jack, put down the gun! "Get on your knees!" she yelled.

Although Det. Madsen failed miserably to defend herself, one of the other San Franciso officers shoots him. There's only one shot. Det. Madsen's response? She throws up her hands into the air, like she's giving up and she yells "Hey, ????, stop!" She's yelling this at her fellow officers, the ones that may have just saved her life.

I found this scene, where cop killer Jack threatens to shoot Det. Madsen, and she doesn't shoot him, to be incredibly unrealistic and even absurd. Yes, this appeared to be a classic example of the "Suicide by Cop" mentality some malcontents may have, and many people may argue that Det. Madsen was probably not in any real danger --- that bad guy Jack wouldn't have really shot her.

Also, many others may argue that she didn't want to shoot him because they needed him alive, so that they could learn where he had been for the past 50 years, and also what was the secret to his still youthful appearance --- had he found the Fountain of Youth?

All of this is hogwash, though. When an individual, any individual, points a loaded pistol at a police officer, there is every expectation that that individual will be shot, and probably killed. Jack? The other officers around Jack and Det. Madsen fired a grand total of one (1) shot and they apparently wounded poor old jack in a non-lethal location. Just one bullet? I find that also absurd too.

As they led Jack away, he turned to Det. Madsen and said, "You should have killed me!"

I could agree more!

Gary P. Jones, Captain [retired]
Fort Lauderdale Police Department

Author of book: Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"
www.badge 149.com

Final Note: If you saw this series premiere, or even if you didn't, I would very much like to hear any comments you might have about this post. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do we really need more gun control?

My previous post ("Shame of those who would politicize the murder of a law enforcement officer") was about the murder of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson at Mount Rainier National Park. Her killer was an Iraq war veteran named Benjamin Colton Barnes, age 24. He fled the scene of Ranger Anderson's murder and entered the woods of the massive park. Thanks to Mother Nature, he did not survive. His body was discovered Monday lying face down and partially submerged in an icy, snowy mountain creek. Several weapons were found nearby. An autopsy performed Tuesday showed that Barnes had hypothermia and drowned.

I'm not that familiar with the current law reference firearms and America's National Parks, but it is apparently legal for park visitors to bring loaded weapons with them when they enter one of our nation's National Parks (unless there are state laws that make it illegal). After Ranger Anderson's murder I read several other articles that mentioned that her murder has now renewed the debate regarding this new 2010 federal law.

It seems that some people are of the opinion that if firearms were outlawed in our National Parks this would have stopped the subject Barnes from bringing weapons into the Mount Rainier National Park and therefore Park Ranger Anderson would never have been murdered. What absurd logic! Does anyone really believe that if Barnes saw a sign at the park's main entrance that said "No firearms permitted," that he would have turned around and not entered the park? Really, does this even make any sense to you?

The subject Barnes had apparently been involved in another shooting earlier, and four people were injured, two critically. He apparently went to Mount Rainier National Park to hide from the investigating authorities, and now there are those misguided individuals among us who would have us believe that Barnes would obey the law now and not bring his guns into the park. What hogwash!

We should remember that when Barnes was still in the military he was charged with driving under the influence AND improper transport of a privately owned weapon. So, if he didn't obey the rules while in the army, with respect to his weapons, why should we believe it would have been any different after he had been involved in that earlier shooting?

Bill Wade is the outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. Because of Ranger Anderson's murder he reportedly said that, "The many congressmen and senators that voted for the legislation that allowed loaded weapons to be brought into the parks ought to be feeling pretty bad now." Mr. Wade apparently called Ranger Anderson's murder a tragedy that could have been prevented. Again, with all due respect to Mr. Wade, what bull! Posting a "No firearms permitted" sign would NOT have prevented this tragedy from happening.

One thing that always seems to happen after a tragedy like the Ranger Anderson murder is that some individuals and/or politicians can't resist the urge to use these tragedies for their own political gain. I remember back to the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January of 2011. Jared Lee Loughner was the nut who shot Giffords, and who wounded a dozen others, and killed six. On his resume it says that he was rejected by the U.S. Army, although they won't say why. A judge eventually declared that Loughner was NOT competent to stand trial.

Shortly after the Arizona tragedy involving Rep. Giffords, New York Rep. Peter King, an outspoken Republican who favors more gun control, said he wants a new Federal law that would make it a crime to knowingly carry firearms within 1,000 feet of high-ranking officials (which, of course, would include the members of Congress).

Yes, I suppose such a law might keep a rational and a sane person from carrying a gun to a political rally. But, what about a nut like Loughner, who has been declared not competent? Do you think such a law would stop him? I don't think so.

Gary P. Jones, Captain [retired]

Fort Lauderdale Police Department (1967-1993)

author of book: Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shame on those who would politicize the murder of a law enforcement officer

Unfortunately, tragedy never takes a holiday --- not even on New Year's Day. 34-year old National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, the mother of two young daughters, was shot and killed Sunday morning at beautiful Mount Rainier National Park, in Washington State.

The park rangers at Mount Rainier have one of the most important jobs there and they are the park's front-line law enforcement officers. They drive lonely rural roads by themselves and they do everything from responding to car accidents, issuing speeding tickets and arresting lawbreakers. They also respond to fires, hike the park's many miles of trails and help search for lost or injured visitors. They also conduct checkpoints where they inspect vehicles entering the park to see if they are properly equipped with snow chains on their tires.

When the driver of the blue pontiac did not stop at the checkpoint the rangers there radioed for assistance. Ranger Anderson then established a roadblock to stop the car which was now being pursued by another park ranger. When the fleeing driver encountered Ranger Anderson's roadblock, he exited his vehicle and began firing on both Anderson and the other ranger who had been chasing him. Anderson was struck while she was still inside of her car and she never got a chance to get out of it. Even though her wounds were extremely critical, as the subject fled on foot she apparently still was able to radio for help. And although the pursuing ranger's cruiser was peppered with gunfire, he was not injured.

The vehicle was operated by a white male,
Benjamin Colton Barnes. What the park rangers didn't know was that the subject Barnes was a suspect in a shooting that happened about eight hours earlier at a Skyway (King County) home. The subject Barnes and several other armed individuals were apparently having some sort of a "show and tell" with their guns when an argument resulted into a deadly shootout. Four people were shot, and two reportedly were in critical condition.

No one will ever know for sure what Barnes was thinking, or why he acted as he did. But, we can speculate that after he was involved in the Skyway shooting he may have decided to hide out at the 368-square-mile Mount Rainier National Park. He may have reasoned that the cops would never think to look for him there, and if they did they wouldn't be able to find him. We don't know if Barnes already had more weapons and gear in his car when he fled the Skyway home shortly after 3:00 a.m., or if he retrieved them afterwards, but he was heavily armed and equipped with survival gear when he arrived at Mount Rainier National Park at about 10:00 a.m. He apparently planned to survive in the rugged wilderness.

I think it is also safe to speculate that when Barnes first encountered the checkpoint, his guilty conscience told him that the rangers were after him. That's why he blew right past the checkpoint. And, with the one ranger chasing him, and when he saw the roadblock that Ranger Anderson had established with her own car, he must have thought the cops were really after him. It's such a tragedy, again. Like so often happens in traffic stops that turn deadly, the bad guy(s) may have done something very serious, yet the officer(s) are only believing they're stopping them for traffic. There's a definite lesson to be learned here --- again. Never assume you're only stopping an individual for a "routine" reason. There is nothing "routine" about any traffic stop.

As many criminals will often do, when suddenly faced with a very stressful and unexpected encounter, the subject Barnes panicked. After shooting Ranger Anderson, and shooting at the other ranger(s) too, Barnes fled into the nearby woods without any of the survival gear he had arrived with. Approximately 200 officers from a number of different law enforcement agencies were involved in the search for Ranger Anderson's killer. In addition to the search teams on the ground, which included K-9 units, the massive search Monday also involved fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters with sophisticated infrared detection equipment.

Without adequate survival gear the subject Barnes was definitely in a no win situation. He was totally unprepared for the bitter, freezing temperatures and the chest-deep snow he had to maneuver through. When Barnes was eventually found, he was dead. His body was lying half-submerged in Paradise Creek and he was wearing only one tennis shoe, a T-shirt and jeans. He was barely one mile away from where he had first fled into the woods. All indications were that he had died from his harsh exposure to the elements. His body showed no signs of injuries.

At a press conference before Barnes was found, the person conducting the press conference indicated that the police and the park rangers would be very happy if Mother Nature did them a favor and dealt with Barnes before he would be able to do any further harm to anyone else. Well, chalk one up for good old Mother Nature --- and the good guys!

When the body of Barnes was found he reportedly was carrying a handgun, a magazine of ammunition and a knife. Another ammunition magazine was found near Barnes' body and an assault-style rifle was also found about 50 yards upstream. So, when he fled the scene of Ranger Anderson's murder Barnes took his weapons and ammunition, but not his survival gear. Yes, it sounds as though he definitely did intend to do more harm if he could. Thank you Mother Nature!

The subject Barnes was an Iraq war veteran (2007-2008) and while he was there he supposedly served in communications. He had been a private first class and his military service ended in the fall of 2009. He reportedly received a misconduct discharge after he was charged with D.U.I. and improper transport of a privately owned weapon.

Barnes also reportedly had had a difficult time making the transition back to civilian life. He also may have suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and he may have even been suicidal too.

First of all, I feel bad for any military veteran who is having a difficult time after having served our country. I love the brave men and women of our military and will never forget all that they do to help keep us free!

However, when I read some of the posts by individuals who were commenting on the murder of Park Ranger Anderson, I was appalled and disgusted. Some of these people had the nerve to blame Ranger Anderson's murder on --- you guessed it, President George Walker Bush (43rd President). After all, it was President Bush that sent the subject Barnes off to Iraq where he became a ruthless killing machine. Therefore, according to their perverted reasoning, it was the fault of President Bush, and not Barnes' fault. Give me a break! Don't these people have anything better to do than blame President Bush for everything they can. I suppose next we'll hear that it's his fault that................... You pick the topic.

Before I would blame anyone for Barnes' criminal behavior, I would like to remind everyone that there are a great many military veterans, both men and women, who suffer from PTSD, and they don't go around shooting innocent people. They don't kill law enforcement officers.

Also, I would like to know much more about the subject Barnes BEFORE he entered the military. What was he like? I suspect that his love affair with guns was something he had long before he became a soldier. I also suspect that his unpredictable and violent personality was something he had long before he went to Iraq. I could be wrong, of course, but I don't think I am.

Sadly, but it's a true fact, not every person is qualified and/or has the necessary qualities, and mental stability, that would make them a good soldier. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the law enforcement profession too. Some individuals are just not suited for these important roles. I would venture to say that
Benjamin Colton Barnes was one of these individuals. Again, I may be wrong, but before we jump to almost insane conclusions and blame President Bush for this man's criminal behavior, I think we should have all the facts first.

Shame on anyone who would politicize such a tragic thing as the murder of a law enforcement professional.

Ranger Anderson's murder has stunned her colleagues of the National Park Service. Only eight other rangers have been murdered in the line of duty in the past century.

Gary P. Jones, Captain [retired]
Fort Lauderdale Police Department (1967-1993)

author of book:
Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"


more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/01/02/2333928/death-on-mount-rainier-a-timeline.html#storylink=cpywas closed as dozens of officers searched for the armed gunman over snowy and rugged terrain.who was gunned down after she had set a roadblock to stop