Happy New Year

The OTB family wishes you and yours a happy 2022.

The floor is yours.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Enjoy your New Years present James.

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  2. CSK says:

    May 2022 be a better one for us all.

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  3. Barry says:

    Happy New Year, James!

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I had meant to pass this along yesterday:

    In November 2008, Pennsylvania Trooper Jay Splain was honored at a county law enforcement banquet as a hero, the police officer of the year. The reason: He had shot and killed a suicidal man who allegedly pointed an Uzi submachine gun at him.

    That was the first killing. Splain went on to fatally shoot three more people in separate incidents, an extraordinary tally for an officer responsible for patrolling largely rural areas with low rates of violent crime. All four who died were troubled, struggling with drugs, mental illness or both. In two cases, including that of the man with the Uzi, family members had called police for help because their relatives had threatened to kill themselves.

    The most recent death was last month, when Splain shot an unarmed man in his Volkswagen Beetle. After learning that the officer had previously killed three other people over nearly 15 years, the man’s sister, Autumn Krouse, asked, “Why would that person still be employed?”

    Splain is an outlier. Most officers never fire their weapons. Until now, his full record of killings has not been disclosed; the Pennsylvania State Police successfully fought a lawsuit seeking to identify him and provide other details in one shooting. In the agency’s more than a century of policing, no officer has ever been prosecuted for fatally shooting someone, according to a spokesperson. That history aligns with a long-standing pattern across the country of little accountability for police officers’ use of deadly force.

    Houston? We have a problem.

    Darrel W. Stephens, a former longtime police chief who now helps run a policing research institute at Florida State University, called the four shootings a “red flag.”

    “Four is incredibly unusual,” he said. “That is out there on the edge.” Even if the shootings can be legally justified, he said, the pattern needs to be “examined very closely” to determine why the same officer repeatedly resorted to deadly force. “Because they can, it doesn’t mean they should,” he said.

    Ya think?

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I saw that article yesterday. You need no further evidence that policing in America has gone far off the track, than to see a law enforcement organization awarded the cop of the year award to someone who killed a suicidal, mentally ill individual. They consider that office a hero? There wasn’t an officer in that county that talked a troubled youth out committing a crime, that successfully intervened in a domestic dispute that ended without violence? So we’re at the level that killing a crazy person makes you a hero. Sick.

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  6. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    He does sound a bit like a serial killer.

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  7. Happy New Year to all the OTBers!

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: They consider that officer a hero?

    Well, you know, the guy said mean things to him.

    In the same vein, we have this:

    During the past week and a half, LAPD shot six people, including Orellana-Peralta. Five of the people shot by LAPD around the Christmas holiday have died, and none were armed with guns, according to official accounts.

    The killings added to an already grim year for the LAPD’s use of lethal force. In 2021, LAPD has shot 38 people, killing 18 of them, according to the LA Times. In 2020, the department shot 27 people, killing seven of them. Those figures were similar to 2019, when LAPD shot 26 people, killing twelve.

    SNAFU.

    On 23 December, LAPD killed two people inside a Burlington Coat Factory store in North Hollywood: a 24-year-old man who had a bike lock and had assaulted several customers, and Orellana-Peralta, the 14-year-old who was in a dressing room.

    Video of the shooting showed an officer immediately firing at the man from a distance, without appearing to issue any commands. One of the officer’s bullets hit the girl, who was shopping for Christmas dresses.

    Civil rights advocates questioned why an officer with an assault rifle appeared to fire at 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez, who did not have a gun, without attempting to deescalate and without assessing whether bystanders could be endangered.

    As Jim Wright says, there are no accidents with guns, only negligence.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sarcasm Spurs Creative Thinking

    It’s a public service I provide. Your welcome.

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  10. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Illustrates a stark difference in white and black culture. As long as this sociopath kills these categories of people–you won’t hear a peep out of rural white America. This is why they cannot understand how someone would march and protest of police killings of black people, who overwhelmingly fall in this same category–drug addicted, mentally ill, petty criminals, etc. What’s to be said about a culture that won’t speak up for it’s most vulnerable people though?

    I am also convinced that sociopathic policemen–like rapist–know how to pick their victims. They know who to shoot and kill that will bring the least chance of blowback. I haven’t been mistreated by a cop in 20 years—because Im sure they understand relatively quickly in the engagement that “I could be somebody”

    Im sure my presence, manner, and the USAA insurance cards provide supporting evidence that its best keep it professional, write the ticket, and leave this nigger alone. So they mostly do. I just got stopped a few weeks ago on my weekly journey to Desantistan from Central Florida near a hicktown named Chiefland to make a holiday donation to their Jobs Program police department. The kid that stopped me was very professional and friendly.

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  11. JohnSF says:

    Happy New Year to all here!

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    You need no further evidence that policing in America has gone far off the track, than to see a law enforcement organization awarded the cop of the year award to someone who killed a suicidal, mentally ill individual.

    While I don’t think Po’po Of The Year is justified for that, I do think someone behaving irrationally with an Uzi probably should be shot.

    Holding a gun ups the ante on everything. If a person is a deadly threat and behaving in a threatening manner, I’m ok with the police shooting them if that is the first option for stopping them that presents itself. Gun rights come with gun responsibilities — responsibilities the mentally ill person clearly couldn’t handle.

    The mentally ill person should never have had access to an Uzi.

    Whoever owned the Uzi and left it unsecured should have been charged with something.

    I don’t even like calling the guy mentally ill, as the vast majority of mentally ill people aren’t dangerous, they’re just annoying (my anxiety problems, for instance, are merely annoying to others).

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  13. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: No edit button, just wanted to add this:

    There are lots of problems with policing, and terrible patterns can be seen. But, shooting a crazy guy waving around an Uzi isn’t indicative of any of that. It was a tragedy that it got to the point where a crazy dude was threatening people with a gun (holding a gun and pointing it at someone is a threat), but what happened next was not wrong.

    When building up a pattern of excessive and unjustified deadly force, skip the ones where it is pretty justified.

    Unless you are building a case that because the officer had to resort to killing someone that first time, that they were more likely to use deadly force in the future.

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  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:While I agree in principle, that wasn’t what happened here. From the article:

    Emergency operators told her to go outside; the two men stayed indoors. Rotkewicz used electrical tape to strap an Uzi to his neck and chest, so the barrel pointed up at his chin, Frendt later said.

    About 5 p.m., at least a dozen state troopers showed up, Hunsicker recalled; a specially trained SWAT-style negotiating team typically responds to such situations. Police tried once to call the house, but Hunsicker had brought the cordless phone out with her.

    Hunsicker said no one had used a bullhorn or tried other ways to resolve her brother’s crisis peacefully. Instead, Splain and another trooper eventually entered the house. Frendt, still inside, later told the deputy coroner that the troopers ordered him to leave, the coroner’s report said.

    On his way out, he heard one of them demand that Rotkewicz drop his weapon, followed by two gunshots, the report said.

    Splain shot Rotkewicz twice in the chest, records show. Pennsylvania State Police later said that Rotkewicz had pointed the Uzi at Splain.

    Splain had seen Rotkewicz holding the Uzi beneath his chin, the letter said, but it did not mention any electrical tape. The letter then said Rotkewicz “ignored repeated orders from Trooper Splain to stop and drop the firearm” and “lowered the gun forward” toward the trooper.

    In a court filing years later, a lawyer for state police acknowledged that Rotkewicz had affixed the Uzi “to his chest and neck by means of the black-colored electrical tape.” Although it’s possible Rotkewicz broke the tape, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy wrote, “The tape has been wrapped several times about the neck and is kinked in several areas.”

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: Yowser. Well, our Hillbilly friend from the Ozarks skipped some important bits when he was quoting that, didn’t he?

    It’s like everyone says: Never trust the Ozarks. None of it. Not the people, or the mountains or the plateau.

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  16. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I honestly hope we come to regard 2021 in a similar way as those of us who are somewhat older regard 1968 – “the year everything went wrong.” Here’s to a better 2022.

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  17. dazedandconfused says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There is no doubt there is a serious training issue that needs fixing, the military mode of force-protection first has been inculcated into far too may police, most notably the “warrior cop” trainer Dave Grossman.

    However it should be kept in mind not all police shootings are a good fit for a case against that. The recent one in the store? That description is quite unfair. That the police had been told there was an active shooter was left out. Check out his body-cam. He saw a woman down and a pool of blood, what was he supposed to do when he had a shot with a wall behind? Not going to get any sort of a wall in a store like that often. What is a cop supposed to do in the middle of a store? Wait until the killer is up against a masonry wall?

    If we want to re-train police it is necessary to put ourselves in their shoes. Show some benefit of doubt. Otherwise it will be ignored.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    There is no doubt there is a serious training issue that needs fixing, the military mode of force-protection first has been inculcated into far too may police, most notably the “warrior cop” trainer Dave Grossman.

    Well said.

    I think there is another important change that is related to training, but tangentially: We need to stop putting the safety of the officer above the safety of the public. In virtually all jurisdictions the fact that a cop felt threatened is sufficient to justify nearly any action. I’m not saying it isn’t an important consideration, but it can’t be the only one. A cop that opens fire with a high powered rifle in a crowded department store because he was afraid to take a moment to clarify the situation should never have been given that gun in the first place.

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  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:

    Read the article. The victim had the gun taped to his body with electrical tape, the muzzle was under his chin. This was as much as a cry for help by the victim as a suicide attempt.

    Early in my professional career, I worked in a residential mental health facility. Among the residents was a guy about 22, he had tried killing himself with a shotgun but mostly missed and survived with part of his face blown away. One night he came up to me and started talking and telling me about the attempt, he finished in tears by saying that he was so grateful that he missed.

    There was a very good chance that the cop’s victim would also look back on that incident and be grateful to have survived if there had been an attempt to help him rather than a bullet.

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  20. MarkedMan says:

    A datum in our endless national debate on the police:

    A younger relative by marriage is the daughter of a cop and has been very quick to defend the police against charges of racism. In particular, she said she never heard her father say a racist word. She recently attended a wedding in Wisconsin for a family member who was also a cop and, not surprisingly, many of the attendees were cops themselves or relatives of cops. The wedding guests were all white. She was appalled at what was coming out of their mouths. She said she could hear the n-word everywhere. One cop at her table, describing having to enter a potential crime scene, said “Pardon my French, but we’re talking a whole nest of n***rs!”. This to laughter all around the table.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    Kevin Drum has, of course, his top ten charts from 2021. All are interesting, but I’d like to call attention to the last, Anti-Democratic Sentiment, which makes a couple of interesting points. First, as with many things, anti-democratic sentiment is totally asymmetrical. It has gone up hugely among GOPs and not at all among Ds. Anytime you see a story saying Americans have lost faith in democracy, know the author is lying. Only GOPs have lost faith. Why? Drum shows why, anti-democratic sentiment tracks nicely with the FOX “News” primetime audience. FOX is the problem.

    In these posts and threads we’ve discussed at length the structural and other reasons our politics are what they are. The lingering question from those discussions isn’t “Why?”, but “Why now? Why not all along? What changed?” The answer is FOX “News”. Dominion has shown one way to blunt their influence, by suing the shit out of them. If we recognize that FOX is the problem, maybe we can find other ways, within the First Amendment, to weaken their influence.

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  22. dazedandconfused says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I agree for the most part, but in this case I view the bleeding woman down and a pool of blood sufficient clarification, and do not view the shot taken as defensive. He was trying to down the perp, hit him before he ducked around the corner.

    I view the wall behind as justification. There are very few walls in the middle of stores. Every other shot would likely have nothing behind it but shelves and displays. There is no reasonable expectation of getting a clearer background in a store, hoping he would at some point have nothing but a masonry wall behind the perp would be hoping for too much.

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  23. wr says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: “I honestly hope we come to regard 2021 in a similar way as those of us who are somewhat older regard 1968 – “the year everything went wrong.” Here’s to a better 2022.”

    Umm… remember 1969?

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  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @wr:..Umm… remember 1969?

    When I was allegedly attending college at Southern Illinois University in the spring of 1969 there were full blown riots (tear gas, billy clubs pounding heads, police cars overturned and burned). All this over womens hours. All the on campus dorms were sexually segregated. Women were locked up in their buildings at 11pm and couldn’t get out till 6am. The men’s dorms were never locked. Male students could come and go as they pleased. One night I watched as several hundred female students lined up to the entrance to one of the womens dorms. “Fuck this.” they all said and refused to enter till 11:01 pm. The university set up tables, took down all their names and suspended them from school.
    The following spring of 1970 there were anti draft/anti war demonstrations. By the time United States soldiers murdered 4 unarmed, innocent citizens at Kent State on May 4th, this place came unglued. The city instituted a curfew and passed an ordinance that declared that more than two people standing on the sidewalk together constiuted a mob. If two students were standing in front of a bookstore discussing the Euthyphro Dilemma in the middle of the day and a third person just happened to walk by the Illinois State Police would jump out of their cruisers and teargass and beat all three with their billyclubs, arrest them and send them off to the Jackson County Jail. The State Police raided homes in town where they thought the ringleaders* of the riots lived. They would wait till after sundown, throw teargas through the windows and then when the occupants came running out the cops would beat them on the head with their billy clubs and arrest them for violating curfew because they were outside. This went on for weeks until the university shut down.
    Let’s hear it for the good old days!

    *As far as I can tell riots don’t have ringleaders. When the rocks and bottles are flying and the billyclubs are swinging and the teargas is in the air. Everyone is on their own and needs to be ready to run!

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: As I said above, I am surprised that Mr. Hillbilly left out such a major bit of evidence supporting his claim when selecting quotes. I generally trust him to be a pretty good representer of information, and never suspected he was selectively quoting to weaken his argument.

    @dazedandconfused: This is one that is probably close enough to the border of justified/unwarranted that people can argue it either way. The officer shooting his gun in a store obviously adds to the danger, but if they have good reason to believe it is an active shooter situation… I don’t know what the protocols are.

    My inclination is that one should not shoot until determining that it is safe to do so, and that the officer fucked that up. Criminal error, or just normal error, I have no idea.

    I feel bad for the officer, because it was clearly not his intent, and he’s going to have to live with it for the rest of his life, presumably questioning his judgment.

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