Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You won't hear me say this too often!

But today, it's true. The local newsrag ran a story in today's edition about a local police department having complaints filed against it by irate parents, and I actually support the police department here.

Three teenage boys, one of them armed with an air pistol, climbed a fence and pointed said air pistol at a woman as she was jogging. The police were called, and responded to the call with their weapons drawn.

Now normally, I'm not too fond of having the police draw guns on children. In this instance, it was highly appropriate. A report of several young men pointing a pistol at a jogger came over the radio. That act, in and of itself, is enough to warrant drawn guns.

Although the online edition didn't provide pictures, the front page of the print edition DID provide a picture of the air pistol in question. It bears a striking resemblance to a Springfield XD .45, just like the cops said it did. Had I seen it from a distance of more than 15 feet, I would have felt a bit jumpy myself.

Often times, when one hears the phrase "Well, that guy shouldn't have been a jackass!" in response to hearing about how a cop has tasered, drawn a gun, or struck someone in the line of duty, the situation surrounding it is typically consisting of someone being told to follow some random "command" that is totally unnecessary and met with a citizen exerting his rights. Other times, it's just completely uncalled for in any a prisoner being kicked in the nose for swallowing dope in Clute, a mentally retarded man being tasered for standing up after being told to sat on the curb following a traffic stop in Freeport, an elderly man being beaten to death on the street in Pasadena, my front door being kicked in by a cop with a locked and loaded pistol pointed at my head for having too many cars in my driveway, et cetera. This isn't one of those times.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly praising the police because they did what they get paid to do. When three youngsters with one gun are met by four men wearing body armor and holding pistols, it's not exactly much of a "fair fight". It's not supposed to be. The cops don't exactly want it to be. Hell, even I wouldn't want it to be. No one in their right mind would. Every normal-minded person would want to have the utmost advantage over their opponent, especially when we're talking about potentially getting into a gunfight.

No, what I'm saying here is that the police were called because the teenage boys were doing something that was extremely dangerous. First and foremost, while a BB pistol isn't exactly what I'd choose to bring to a gunfight, it really can cause serious injury and even death. The instruction manual even states this. When I was in RA's (the Southern Baptist equivalent of Boy Scouts), we were taught that BB guns were every bit as dangerous as real firearms, and should be treated as such. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'd venture to say that if you see someone running around pointing guns at random people for no reason, they probably haven't had any serious gun safety instruction...which leads me to believe that they can't shoot for shit, so you really have no idea if they're going to "get lucky" and put your eye out with it.

Strike two in the "public safety" area is the fact that if someone can reasonably assume that the BB pistol you're pointing at joggers in a park is actually a full-on real deal pistol (after having seen the picture in today's paper, I couldn't have told the difference!), the jogger herself AND the person who saw and called the police would have had ample legal justification (as well as good reason) to open fire on these punk kids in a public park. Like it or not, sometimes innocent bystanders get hit in gunfights, no matter how good a shot the shooter may be.

So yes, these kids were universally stupid with their actions. They threatened the actual AND perceived safety of another person, which is the only legitimate reason for ever having a policeman draw his weapon on a citizen. I mean, it's not like the cop was giving them a hard time, and decided to draw his weapon when one of these kids smarted off...they actually had good reason to believe there was a safety issue that needed to be resolved. Armed men pointing pistols at joggers in the park definitely need to be addressed...and the appropriate way to deal with this is to ensure that the threat is subdued using the safest possible means, even if those means include outnumbering them with armed officers.

Kudos to the West Columbia Police Department. Good job.

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