To protect and serve.

h/t raconteur report.

So it transpires that there were several armed local deputies outside the school in the US while it was being shot up by a teenager. These deputies did not enter the building and engage the shooter due to the fact that they were wetting their britches. It seems that there is a good proportion of US cops who are happy to shoot in the face unarmed civilians wearing bathrobes but shake with fear at the idea of engaging and taking a down an armed criminal in the middle of a gun rampage.

The “school guard” or whatever his official title is supposed to be was outside the entire time hiding behind a concrete pillar. The fact that he was armed and that he knew that there was a shooter inside gave him a distinct advantage over the shooter as the shooter did not know that he had a potential armed opponent on the scene. But even with this advantage he still didn’t enter the building. He didn’t even try to stop the shooter when he exited the building.

Okay, so nothing new in so far as what has been discussed all over the internet on this subject over the last few days. But on the weekend I saw this piece over at Tim Newman’s site and this line really stood out for me:

However, it has been pointed out on Twitter that policemen are not obliged to put themselves in danger to save others, despite many people understandably thinking they ought to, and it’s what they’re paid for.

I found this somewhat incredible. Policemen are indeed obliged to put themselves in danger to save others. There are numerous jobs that require those who accepted the job to put themselves in physical danger. A fireman is an excellent example of this. If your house was on fire and your wife and children trapped on the top floor then I’m not sure that you would react well to the firemen on scene declining to enter due to the physical danger that this entails.

Being a whitewater rafting guide was a very cool job by any standards, but it also had some very real physical dangers. I still remember several occasions when I had to dive into flooded rivers to rescue clients that had been swept off other guides’ rafts. I remember these moments because they scared the shit out of me after I had successfully performed the rescues. Any guide who might have refused to put himself on the line would have been bounced on the spot. And I very much doubt that any customer would have been happy if they had been allowed to be swept to their doom simply because the guides on the scene didn’t want to risk their own lives in such a situation.

Society reacts very badly when people in such positions neglect their duty of care to others because of the risk of personal harm. An excellent example of this was the captain of the Costa Concordia who abandoned the scene of that disaster as it was unfolding.

The individuals on Twitter pointing out that policemen are not legally obliged to place themselves in danger are apparently actual lawyers, so Tim’s piece is most probably accurate. But this doesn’t mean that such craven acts are morally acceptable, particularly in a front line position such as being a police officer. Yes, the law may very well be on your side, but you signed up to protect and serve the public, not to be yourself protected by such laws.

Personally, I’ll not criticise the individual too harshly. Nobody wants to go and get shot and this chap probably didn’t realise he’d have to face down a lunatic with an AR-15 one day; when the time came, he bottled it. Yes it’s cowardly but it’s also human and understandable.

If you don’t want to have to risk entering a burning building, don’t sign up to be a fireman. If you don’t want to have to dive into flooded rivers to rescue people, don’t sign up to be a whitewater rafting guide. And if you don’t want to have to confront an armed intruder in a high school when a specific part of your job description requires you to do so, then don’t sign up to be a school cop.

I judge the individual concerned very harshly indeed. But since society has effectively eliminated the act of shame or personal contrition then I’m sure that in the future the individual concerned will be able to come up with some internal narrative supporting the notion that he was really the victim here.

I don’t care what the laws state regarding the requirement of policemen to put themselves in danger to protect the general public, because the expectation of the general public is that the police will do so. As Michael Williamson so eloquently pointed out, nobody cares if you go home safe at the end of your shift because by signing up as a cop you relieve the average citizen of the responsibility of taking the law into his own hands to protect himself.

Social cohesion relies on implicit social contracts. One of these is that police will protect the public, particularly if the public are punished if they take the law into their hands in order to defend themselves. People who have the attitude that shootings in the US can only be solved by taking away the general public’s ability to defend themselves are seriously misinformed. But when you add to this the fact that the armed police in the latest shooting refused to go in and protect the public then such an attitude is simply delusional.

If this continues you can expect in the future that petty warlords will begin popping up in Western societies. If people are not allowed to defend themselves but the police won’t defend them either then the average citizen will turn to their local big man. Like the opening scene in The Godfather when the funeral director who had placed his faith in the police finally understood that the only one who could help him was the local top criminal.

If the police want to use petty laws to hide behind when they fail at their job then do not be surprised when the public loses confidence in the police and starts to make other arrangements. Because the police do not exist in isolation. They serve a need, and if they don’t fulfill that need then they will inevitably be replaced with something else that does.

10 thoughts on “To protect and serve.

  1. because by signing up as a cop you relieve the average citizen of the responsibility of taking the law into his own hands to protect himself.

    Policemen are given authority in order to carry out their responsibilities. If they will not honor those responsibilities they are no better than petty tyrants.


  2. TechieDude

    The irony in this whole fiasco is rich. You have the sheriff on a CNN scripted “townhall” advocating gun control, then whoops! Video surfaces of one of his guys – Barney Fife outside the building, not even bothering to put the bullet in his gun. Turns out, he probably wasn’t the only one.

    So much for being sheepdogs. Also blows a huge hole in the gun control argument.

    I was bar-tending at a charity event this weekend. Where I live, that means bartenders must be “certified” (by watching a dumb class), and security has to be hired. Typically, we pay the local cops to do this. It’s usually the same one or two. It’s a good gig for them.

    So we were chatting about this very incident. He didn’t scorn – (That dudes a pussy), or brag (I’d have marched right in), but you could tell the enormity of the same that failed cop brought on himself. The whole department shamed themselves in the eyes of the cops here.

    Hate to be that dude. A coward dies a thousand deaths.

    You’re right. It’s a social contract. And it was broken. Add to that the foibles and incompetence of the FBI, you get less and less confidence in law enforcement. I think it’s high time to get my concealed carry permit.

    BTW, last time I was in London, a coworker was telling me about working at home, looking out the door of his office and seeing some dude in his house, stealing his stuff.

    I asked him what he did. “Well, I chased him down the street” Then I told him that would never happen in Texas where I live. Burglars avoid houses where someone may be home. You can’t tell if the lady of the house is packing heat or not. More often than not, they are.

    Floored him.


  3. Peter MacFarlane

    There was a case in the UK a few years back, where a couple cops stood and watched a child drown in a pond, because they hadn’t been trained in underwater rescue, or some such.

    Everyone one here totally understood of course; they took very little flak.


  4. > It seems that there is a good proportion of US cops who are happy to shoot in the face unarmed civilians wearing bathrobes

    But what they really enjoy is shooting people’s pets. They’ll actually shoot out a car window or break into the backyard of someone’s home to do it.


  5. paul scott

    Evidence clear, that we need to recognise the necessity to protect ourselves and families. We need weapons, vigilante and covert action groups. The sooner we realise that we must defend ourselves, and that the Police are sickling employees of the Global State, the better.


  6. blackelkspeaks

    In the older days, if a soldier refused to confront the enemy, then he knew he would be shot. Similarly, if a policeman failed to perform his duties, then he knew he would be fired. We don’t adhere to such quaint notions any more. That’s not who we are. We’re so much better than that now.


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