Which rules violated? Rather, how many?

Shooters regularly pass opinions on negligent discharges they hear about in the media. Which of Cooper's Four Rules of firearm safety were violated in such-and-such event? This is no Monday-morning quarterbacking, it's a reminder to gun owners of their responsibilities and the risks they face.

Now that Uncle Radley has drawn widespread attention to the militarization of police, and the excessive use of dynamic entries, by the now-famous video, perhaps it's time for these entries to receive similar scrutiny against a set of rules that allow us to judge (yes, judge: to sit in judgment of, to criticize, to pass opinion on) the actions of police officers.

The acts of police must face scrutiny just as the acts of mayors, presidents, senators, or representatives. They act on our behalf. To those who complain that mere civilians cannot presume to judge the actions of SWAT officers because have not walked in their boots, I call bullshit. If we cannot evaluate the actions of those who claim to serve us, we cannot determine whether they are serving us at all, and we cannot determine whether they are breaking laws themselves. The role of servant and served would be reversed.

To judge their actions, we need a standard. It was Say Uncle or James Rummel (I can't remember) who pointed me to Sir Robert Peel's (or Mayne's) principles of policing.

So, gentle readers: which principles of police conduct were violated in the Columbia raid? For the moment let's convene on Peel's version of the principles.

Note: whether the dad was a dope-dealing scumbag is not relevant. Don't address it. The rules aren't about him.


James R. Rummel said...

This is a great question, and one that should be debated. Let me think on it for a few hours so I can organize my impressions.

Anonymous said...

I'm an outside observer (don't live in North America). I might as well have a go at answering this.

1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

Seems to me that in this case they were the ones committing the crimes (animal cruelty, reckless endangerment, etc.) and disorder. So I'd say this one is violated.

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

I'd say from the feedback I have seen to far, the majority of the public does not approve of this action. Make that two.

3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

Barging into some guy's house in SWAT gear on a misdemeanor charge is definitely not "voluntary observance of the law" and is not likely to encourage it so make that three.

4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

I'd say this case (and others like it) has diminished it significantly so that's four.

5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

Given that the militarisation of the "war on drugs" is pretty much directly catering to public opinion I'm tempted to say this one has been violated but I'm not entirely sure. Let's say four and a half.

6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

No question this one was violated. Five and a half.

7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

In this case they seem to be acting in the interests of the police. Six and a half.

8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

They were judge, jury & executioner to at least one innocent dog. Still, presumably a judge approved this travesty so I'm not sure. Call it seven.

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

The "war on drugs" seems to have created a lot of violent crime and not have any significant effect on drug use. So I'd count this one as violated too.

All in all I'd say the expanding number of SWAT rails on non-violent small-time drug users violate pretty much all these rules in one way or another.

The funny thing is, all the police I've actually had a chance to talk to seem like nice guys and not the types to go around shooting animals and terrorising children for no good reason.

abprosper said...

While yes the police were wrong here, its the idiots in charge who are responsible. We as a society need to stop with the chest beating, man up and realize that a war on drugs (or guns or adult porn or whatever ) and a climate of fear propagated by gun rags, power hungry crooks , arms dealers and the media is not compatible with a free society .

Being free means having enough basic courage and integrity to leave others well enough alone.

As to what the previous poster said, most cops individually are quite decent people,

its the "Blue Gang/SWAT/Milgram Experiment mentality" that is the issue Us vs Them, My Tribe vs Your Tribe.

Better laws are the only real solution