Sunday, August 26, 2012
I didn't want to write this. Really, I didn't. But I'm so pissed that I've got to rant to someone and you all are elected.
It's about New York, of course. About how one crazoid, reportedly a "disgruntled former employee" shot one poor SOB and how the NYPD, responding, managed to shoot nine bystanders. NINE, goddamn it. Of course, they got the crazoid, too. Shoot enough and you'll hit what you intend to sooner or later.
Was it the cops' fault? Well, yes and no. Yes, because as police charged with the right to use deadly force they are personally responsible for their actions. Ethically anyone with such responsibility must develop appropriate skill and judgment. To neglect such development is a sin of omission. No, because the NYPD failed in its responsibility to educate them in what level of skill is necessary in extreme conflicts, how to make the best possible judgment under stress, and train them to that level of performance. Right up until people began falling the officers probably thought they knew what they were doing. Incompetents don't know they're incompetent.
Is New York an isolated case? Get serious. I recall many years ago taking the Glock instructor's class with several police firearms officers. They all had the same question: What set of exercises are the absolute minimum the rank and file officers need in order to qualify?
Police qualifications are minimum-performance tests officers need to pass to carry weapons on the street. Frankly, they're not that tough. They're about marksmanship, shot standing peacefully on a range. Most if not all of the training the typical officer gets is about passing the test.
This is actually more training than most officers want. Police are not usually gun people; most don't care at all about developing proficiency, much less training to shoot fast and accurately in a panic-stricken crowd. Most won't ever fight with guns, even in NYC or Chicago. (Memphis, maybe). There are some serious officers, of course. I shoot with a few, and have good friends among them. But most won't train on their own time or their own nickel. They'd rather be with their families, bowling, fishing, watching sports, whatever other people do.
The answer--the only answer-- is to train as part of the job. It's not only about shooting; driving, first aid, any of that, requires more and better training. That costs money. Where does the money actually go? Not for training. For stuff you can see, cool SWAT equipment, computers, PR programs and diversity nonsense. The training officers I've known would love to have more time, more ammunition, realistic shoothouse ranges and force-on-force encounters that only the elites get now.
The gun folks reading this know all of the above (and if I got anything wrong I'm sure they'll tell me.) This is for the rest, those of you that still believe in the comforting fiction that the sheepdogs can save you. These are your sheepdogs, the ones that shot down nine people in front of the Empire State Building. I'm sure they feel terrible about it, and equally sure that it doesn't help the wounded one damn bit. Bloomberg, that putz, and Kelly, police commissioner and assistant putz, will certainly use this shooting as another argument for gun control. They'll say that our dedicated officers will protect you, just like sheepdogs guarding their flock. NYC will settle the lawsuits certain to be filed. What does Bloomberg care? It's not his money. Kelly will cover his own ass like they always do. And people will forget, just like they forgot Amadou Diallo, another victim of the NYPD's training policies.
For those of you who will never have self-defense training, who live in "non-permissive environments" like NYC, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Frisco, LA, here's the best advice I have. If you hear gunfire, get down flat and stay down. Don't look around, don't try to run any distance. Just get down. No guarantees, but at least it'll make it harder for your guardians to blast you by mistake. You might look silly, but that beats looking natural at the viewing.