Compliance might be a lifesaver

By Joe Rector

Things are out of control in our country. Every evening when the television news airs, whether it is CBS or FOX, stories complete with videos recount the unrest in communities and individuals. It’s become more than most of us can bear to hear or watch.

Is anyone else sick and tired of all the fracases that happen more and more frequently? I’ll never agree that a person should give up his rights in dealing with law enforcement. Also, I’ll never support a statement that says shooting criminals should be the first line of defense. However, in some incidents, things could have been settled with a more desired end if individuals involved had thought for just a second.

One example is Michael Brown and the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. It is tragic that the young man lost his life. Reports state that an officer ordered him out of the street. Brown allegedly pushed the officer as he sat in his patrol car, after which a struggle for the officer’s gun led to one shot that was followed by other shots. In the end, Brown lay dead on the same street out of which he’d been ordered.

No, I wasn’t there, so I have no idea what happened. What I do know is that Brown might have avoided any trouble at all by simply obeying the orders of a police officer. Stepping out of the street might have been something over which Brown might have grown annoyed, but at least he wouldn’t be dead. Why in the world would he push an officer seated in his car and scuffle with him for a gun?

Tragically, a young boy in Cleveland was shot to death seconds after police arrived at the park where he was located. Two 911 calls complained about a young boy pointing a gun at passersby. Perhaps some might believe that the policemen who responded to the call reacted too harshly and too quickly. I suppose that is possible. I’m not sure what I would have done under similar circumstances. If calls had indicated a boy was brandishing a pistol and when I arrived at the scene the same boy reached for the gun, the chances are high that I would have shot him. The survival instinct would have taken over. Afterward, I would have been sick and would spend the rest of my life second-guessing my reactions, but not at the time things transpired. By the way, why did Tamir Rice have the air gun and why was he aiming it at folks?

Just last week, the news showed a story where a police officer responded to a call at a pool party had sparked a fight. He arrived to a scene of havoc. Trying to restore order, he commands several teens to sit down, but when they try to leave, he becomes agitated and loses his composure. One girl confronts the police and fails to leave the scene as the officer instructed. He puts her on the ground after a struggle, and while he is trying to cuff her, two males approach to help the girl. The officer pulls the gun before other policemen chase the boys and eventually take them into custody.

Yes, the policeman in question over-reacted. Still, how would any of us respond if we were facing a group of teens who seemed to be unwilling to co-operate. Would we have drawn a weapon when two males came up in aggressive manners? Why did the female fail to do as officers instructed but instead kept talking and banging her fist in her other hand?

The police aren’t perfect folks. They make mistakes; I suppose that’s because they are human. Sometimes they over-react as fear or confusion sets in. No, those are never reasons to abuse citizens. Here’s the kicker though. In these stories, what seems to missing is a respect for authority and a willingness to comply with directives of law enforcement. Oh, the principle of the matter might get in the way, but in the end, compliance usually leads to a resolution of the problem, one that doesn’t include deaths.

I recently watched “Selma,” and I remember the images on the TV screen when the real thing occurred. That is a time when law enforcement set out to do great harm; they were acting in a criminal way. I don’t think today that any profiling is acceptable. However, I do know that common sense leads me to comply with simple directives by an officer. It is the safest course of action any time. Problems with the situation can be dealt with at a later time.

 

 

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