Blue Bond

Now we get to push back. This week, we look at movements supporting law enforcement, and even some former convicts that have befriended the officers that arrested them after turning their own life around.

1.) Blue Line sidewalks. A man in San Antonio has started a movement taking the “thin blue line” very literally. Anthony Welichko devised what he calls the “Safe Harbor Initiative.” Essentially, it involves people putting a blue line of paint/tape on a curb outside of their homes. He wrote the following on Facebook:

To all law enforcement who see this line, know that the residents of this home appreciate your service and dedication to keeping the peace. Know that when you enter the neighborhood and see these lines that you are not alone or without “back-up”. We do not need the media to make our voices of support for our police and emergency services heard ( though it would be nice). Lastly, if you are in my neighborhood and mean to harm a member of law enforcement, know that decision may be hazardous to you health as someone has that officers back!

2.) Back The Blue. On October 12th, a rally in support of law enforcement will be held as part of the “Back the Blue” movement at the Oklahoma State Capitol building. The rally, which has the emphatic support of Governor Mary Fallin, will include speakers ranging from the governor, to legislators, to law enforcement. The event is, of course, open to the public and attendees are encouraged to wear blue to the event.

“Back the Blue” has also seen action in Dallas, Texas. With residents putting blue ribbons around trees. This has been met with some opposition in the Sunset Hill neighborhood, because apparently someone complained to the Dallas Code Compliance department. (It’s always one complaint now, isn’t it?) Those ribbons have now been removed because of that one complaint.

3.) ODMP. Outside of shows of support from the public at large, we have the Officer Down Memorial Page’s “No Parole For Cop Killers” campaign. Put simply, the group is calling for those convicted of murdering police to serve out their full sentences. The campaign has garnered significant success, with 153 of the parolees they track being denied parole and only 5 thus far being granted parole.

Incidentally, you should consider downloading the ODMP’s app. Recent LoD deaths are displayed on the app, and in-depth statistics are available as well. The app is available for free on both Android running OS 2.3.3 or later and Apple iPhones running OS 7 or later.

4.) Billboards. Ad giant Lamar Advertising has launched a “blue lives matter” campaign in Savannah, GA. Savannah Now reports:

Garden City Police Chief David Lyons, a Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police board member, said he hasn’t seen any of the billboards but supports the general message.

“I would have to support it, with the caveat that all lives matter,” Lyons said.

Lyons also said he regretted that events had come to a point that a rallying cry was needed to say that lives matter.

5.) Convicts. Conservative talk show “Louder With Crowder” shared two stories of ex-convicts who have turned around their lives and actually have thanked the officers who arrested them for “changing” their lives.

Elsewhere, we have this from FOX News about an officer reuniting (and becoming friends with) a man who almost stabbed him in the head. The officer wrote on Facebook:

Almost a year ago this man and I were involved in a major altercation where he tried to stab me in the head and I nearly shot him. Today we ran into each other again and I learned that after his time in prison and some help from probation he now has a full time job and has another son on the way that will be here in November. I was glad it ended well for us both that day and I am ecstatic now to learn that he has turned his life around and we can embrace as friends.

No one is ever lost forever and as long as you continue to work to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday things will work out eventually.

That last line is worth considering. Especially if you’ve read Midnight Run: Debt.

6.) Final word. As an almost characteristically prophetic monologue from Paul Harvey notes, a police officer’s work is one that is thankless, scrutinized for even the slightest mistake, and if they do their job right they are either ignored or derided as lucky. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the challenges an officer faces, the life-or-death decisions he has to make in a split-second (judged by people who have all day and no risk whatsoever), and the mindset of an officer. All three are twisted to make a political point in one direction or another.

Police should not have absolute authority to do as they please in all situations. (Search warrants are a good thing, aside from being the linchpin of the Fourth Amendment.) That being said however, the idea that they should be powerless, that every decision they make is wrong, and that they are simply out for blood is neither rational nor borne out by the facts.

Police are facing enough as it is. They face the kind of people we hope never to meet, a media that is waiting to ruin a career, and a criminal justice system that will just as soon release a serial rapist as it would sentence someone to life without parole for pot possession.

We don’t need outrage.
We don’t need conspiracies on what we think police face.
We need perspective, and a firm grasp on what they actually face.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Blue Blood

Program break: There is some news that I simply have to cover this week. A massive change to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been proposed in the State legislature, and it will make legit cases of self-defense incredibly difficult to bring to trial a la the Zimmerman case.

For more on that, please check on the notes of the one and only Andrew Branca. Branca is the only voice on self-defense law that matters.
Regarding this week, if you haven’t read this week’s primer, go read this week’s primer before you get blindsided by misdirected anger.

This was previously discussed by Catty Conservative, but it bears bringing back up before this week’s Run.

Let me be crystal clear before we go anywhere. This week’s Run is about attacks on law enforcement physically, and the biased media that helps stir those tensions. It is not about Facebook posts or Tweets from random people nobody knows. Outrage and “make them famous” mob scenes are antithetical to a clinical examination of a topic, so it has no place here, nor on any future Midnight Run. I do not believe that getting a low-level employee fired is a “victory” for anybody. It is the definition of harassment.

What does one stand to gain from it? The way to win hearts and minds is not through harassment and getting people fired. That only makes one side or the other look petty. Additionally, it is hypocritical to torch someone in a company while implying that said person is indicative of the values the rest of the company holds, while simultaneously claiming “all organizations have bad apples” when one of those bad apples show up in your favored organizations. — Even Cracked has been able to point out the more asinine parts of social media outrage by way of the Cecil the Lion controversy. — Vox followed this line of reasoning as well with an incredible piece on out of control “mob justice.”
Death threats are criminal. The courts should handle them if they are legitimate. That’s what courts are for.
Blue Blood will focus on attacks on Law Enforcement. Acts motivated by an anti-police mindset, and the leaders of the groups behind them. It will not focus on some repugnant Tweet or Facebook post from somebody with no influence to speak of.

The Run has been and always will be clinical, especially when putting the news on hold to cover a topic in detail.

Mob justice never ends well, and it’s just as easy to be in the mob as it is to be the mob’s primary target.

Excellent. Now we can get back to being clinical about the topic and put our emotions away.

Last week painted a pretty bleak picture for Law Enforcement. While this was not the direction I had originally intended, facts are facts and I can’t change that. Budget cutbacks, collapsing morale, and dropping numbers have already painted a bleak picture for law enforcement. Rising anti-cop sentiment, movements that are outright hostile to police, and a slanted media have only made that situation worse.

This week, we look at recent attacks, statistics on Line of Duty deaths, and we hear from Andrew Branca on how the media narrative collides with both self-defense law and the facts of the respective case.

Again, we are looking at internet movements generally, stats on police casualties, and media narrative.

This is not about emotion. It’s not about outrage. Period.

1.) Attacks. Back in 2009, a man lured 2 Pittsburgh police officers to a house in the Stanton Heights neighborhood with a domestic disturbance call. When 2 officers arrived, the shooter opened fire on them. The suspect was wearing body armor and had 2 rifles, according to local sources. Backup officers arrived, one of which was shot and killed almost instantly upon arriving. A four-hour standoff ended with the shooter being arrested, and two other officers injured.

The point of bringing up something from 2009 is to establish two points as we move along. The first is that anti-police sentiment isn’t particularly anything new. The second is to illustrate that, like the baseline set up last week, the increased profile of these recent ambushes is essentially the culmination of everything we have discussed up to this point. Nothing on this scale develops out of nowhere; police have been battling budgets, falling morale/staff, openly hostile actors for a number of years. What has changed is the profile, frequency, and in some cases the brutality of these acts with the advent of social media and every phone being a camera. (We’ll discuss the issues with those two in a moment.)

Ambushes have occurred in Fox Lake, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia this year. An officer in Abilene, Texas was bound and then strangled, sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth was killed at a gas station this year by a man who had been found mentally incompetent three years ago. An officer in West Penn, PA was assaulted and thrown over an embankment during what was a “routine” traffic stop (if there is such a thing). All of this has occurred in this year alone.

2.) Statistical data. Interestingly, however, the Officer Down Memorial Page reports that overall Line of Duty deaths are down about 2% versus last year. This has led some outlets to denounce the claims of a “war on cops” as a media narrative that simply doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny.

What is difficult to objectively measure is the level of anti-cop material that has come to the Internet. The best barometer we have for that is perhaps the coverage of the Black Lives Matter and Fuck Your Flag movements. The former is famous for chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon,” which was later somehow said to be merely playful.

One of the motivating factors of the BLM movement, however, is the idea that police are trigger-happy and their use of force racially motivated. This narrative has been picked up by numerous media outlets, although Legal Insurrection/Law of Self Defense’s Andrew Branca points out that the narrative doesn’t survive any sort of statistical scrutiny. Branca points out that the vast majority of people shot by police were themselves armed with some form of weapon. (As we have discussed, anything can be a weapon.)

3,) Media. It is the media narrative of “cop shoots unarmed black man” that we need to focus on, and Branca’s work helps us do this brilliantly. Mr. Branca is a lawyer with 30 years of experience, specializing in use-of-force law (in other words, the laws governing when lethal force may be used against an actor.) He is known for his legendarily in-depth coverage of the Zimmerman trial, and is generally seen as the foremost authority on use-of-force law.

We’ll start with the Stand Your Ground law, and the media’s incredible ignorance on what it does, and how it is applied. Put bluntly, Stand Your Ground merely removes (in most cases) a defender’s duty to retreat from someone who is actively attacking you. This is especially so when retreating can only increase the danger you are in at the time. It is not the sole element of self-defense law.

There is perhaps no better display of media bias against police than the Freddie Gray case. Gray died while in police custody. The prosecution (led by a woman who it was later revealed had way too much invested in the case to be prosecuting it), argued that the police officers had a deliberate role in his death because of the nature of his injuries. The prosecution’s arguments were undermined by an autopsy report that released shortly after the case began. Six police officers are being held accused of murder. For its part, the city has settled a civil case with Gray’s family, agreeing to pay $6.4 million to settle the claims. The city stresses that the settlement is for the civil case and has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the officers involved.

4.) Bottom line. While it is extremely difficult to objectively state that there is a full-blown war on police, it is impossible to say that a perfect storm of problems facing law enforcement hasn’t finally come to the surface after brewing for several years. A mix of a police force that is decreasing in every possible way (from raw numbers, to financially, to morale) has met head-on with an extreme anti-authority bent, increased racial tensions (and salespeople like Al Sharpton making money off said tensions), and social media used to organize protests and broadcast extremely slanted video of police.

We’ve spent this week looking at the people out to demean, slander, and in some cases outright kill police. Next week, we will look at the backblast those people have caused. We will look at support for police, including a movement on the part of average people to make police feel safe in some neighborhoods (and directly support them in those neighborhoods).

And we will link back to Midnight Run: Debt, with an ex-convict who turned his life around, and is now close friends with the officer who arrested him.

We spent this week looking at the attacks, next week, we look at the much stronger response.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Blue Line

Over the last few months there has been a lot of traffic about law enforcement. What they do, what they do wrong (let’s be honest, it’s mostly what they do wrong.), and regulations that govern them. Some have called the recent months part of a “war on cops.” Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking into recent attacks on police, protests, self-defense cases that have exonerated police that the media crucified, and much more.

1.) Baseline. Before we go anywhere, a note about what the next few weeks aren’t about. I am not suggesting that police have full authority at all times. (Search warrants are great things, even if the Federal government disagrees. They are still the linchpin of the 4th Amendment) There should be limits on the State’s power to peer into the lives of private citizens, especially if there is no criminal reason for doing so. At the same time, I’m also not Cop Block. I’m not of the opinion that every move an officer makes is by default the wrong one. This is a much more clinical look at law enforcement than that.

This week will lay down the baseline. We will look at cutbacks at police departments across the country, the statistics, the economics, and basically the dry, nuts-and-bolts side of law enforcement. Next week, we will jump headlong into recent attacks on police, including a video stating that it’s “open season” on police and white people. Lastly, we will look at the response to it, and show the aspects of the police department that a lot of anti-police groups would rather not focus on.

2.) Cutbacks. It’s worth noting that, even before the recent focus on law enforcement, police departments had already been facing cutbacks due to the economic downturn. The downturn, according to a 2012-2013 report from the Department of Justice shows, thousands of police officers and sheriff’s deputies faced forloughs of some form. A 2013 CNBC report picked up on this theme and focused on the impact those cutbacks have had on cities across the country.

3.) Leaving the force. The decrease in budgets also leads to lower pay, which is a major factor in officers deciding to leave the force altogether. In the last 2 years alone, Atlanta, Indianapolis, St. Louis (yes, where Ferguson is), and Gary, Illinois have all seen their numbers shrink for reasons ranging from wages to collapsing morale.

4.) Population. All of which exacerbates an inherent problem in law enforcement. (Which is also one of the main reasons they almost uniformly support civilian concealed carry.) Put bluntly, police are vastly outnumbered. Atlanta stands at about 1,900 officers, but the Census Bureau says that Atlanta’s 2014 population is roughly 456,002.

5.) Bottom line. The statistics show that the recent focus on law enforcement is merely the apex of a problem that has been hitting law enforcement for years. It is a decrease in numbers, alongside an increase in high-profile police shootings (in a society where “shooting for self-defense” is right up there with murder for a lot of people). Law enforcement is a tough job, and the combination of a society that seems to be against the use of force, a media looking to stoke fear, and the collapsing morale and budgets have only made it harder.

Next week, we jump into the recent ambushes on police, the media’s coverage of police, and how that coverage very rarely lines up with the real story.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Grab Bag: September 2014

The news streams seemed dominated by a cavalcade of outrage stories this week. As such, we don’t have all that much that is worth covering and, frankly, that stuff can be extremely draining. This week, a brief series of gun stories.

1.) Programming Note. We’re going to put the news on hold again next week for a special Midnight Run on law enforcement. The recent attacks against LE, LE’s take on civilian carry, and more will all be part of the Run. The reason for this, frankly, is in the wake of what some have started to call a “War on Cops.” That is, the deliberate slandering/attacking of LE as a profession based on some extremely slanted media coverage and political narratives.

2.) Background checks. To the shock of only the most ardently anti-gun, a new study from Chicago shows that criminals don’t go through background checks, instead choosing to get guns on the street, or from friends/family. This has lead to a new push from the organization Gun Owners of America to abolish background checks altogether, both because they don’t work and, in GOA’s opinion, they amount to a database on gun owners for the government to abuse.

3.) Cars. Elsewhere in academia is a new study from Duke showing that cars are riskier than firearms. This is shown by the number of total non-owner deaths for cars easily outclasses those firearms are responsible for. It is also worth noting that there are 269 million registered cars and upwards of 300 million guns believed to be in circulation, so basic math would suggest that guns are responsible for more deaths than cars.

Research, however, shows this is not the case.

4.) Armed Citizen. A home invader was shot and killed by an 11-year-old in St. Louis this week. Police are not pushing charges, but do want to know why the kid had access to the gun. At present, police believe that his mother (who is cooperating with police) bought the handgun due to prior break-in attempts at the home.

5.) California. Despite even proponents of California’s new ban on campus carry admitting nothing has actually happened on campus, the California legislature passed the ban 54-24 in the Assembly and 23-12 in the Senate. Now it is on the Governor’s desk, but the Firearms Policy Coalition is threatening a federal lawsuit if Gov. Jerry Brown goes through with signing it. FPC President Brandon Combs tells

“After we win that case, we will systematically challenge similar injustices, not only in California but across the United States. I’m sick and tired of law enforcement political organizations bending law-abiding gun owners over a barrel.”

Regardless, it says a lot that anti-gun politicians are looking for a ban on carrying guns on campus despite nothing happening.

Law enforcement in the spotlight next week. Clinical as you expect.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.