Friday, September 18, 2015

Thoughts On The Police Attack On James Blake

(Photo of the attack on James Blake is from YouTube.)

I had not planned to post anything about the police attack on James Blake in New York. That's because the video of the incident, and the media coverage, seemed to sum it up pretty well -- that it was ridiculous and unnecessary. But since Patrick Lynch, spokesman for the NYPD police union, felt it necessary to issue his idiotic statement, I feel it necessary to comment.

Here is what Lynch said:

"If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good." 

"It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video. That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American."

I doubt this blog qualifies as "media", but I do know something about law enforcement -- and I have "struggled" with criminals many times during my nearly 30-year career (as a corrections officer, a patrol officer in a high crime area of a large city, and as a parole officer). And I believe those criticizing the New York officer's actions are correct. I was personally shocked at his actions, and believe they were indefensible.

One of the first things I was taught upon entering the law enforcement field was to never take an action by yourself when you can call for back-up. Having sufficient back-up not only protects the officer, but also the person he is confronting.

Where was the back-up for this officer? He obviously had time to call for back-up, since the victim did not seemed to be leaving the area. If the officer was in danger, it is because of his own actions (making the attack without sufficient back-up).

And once the back-up arrived, it was still not necessary to attack the victim without warning. They could have approached the victim and asked him for identification. He would have provided it, and no struggle would have happened. And if he did struggle with offers, there would have been enough to take him down without anyone getting hurt (or he could have been tased and then handcuffed).

This incident was badly mishandled. Instead of showing the officer's bravery, it shows his incompetence. It should never have happened. And it could have easily been avoided if the officer had called for back-up, and then treated the victim with the respect that all American citizens deserve from their police.

It is this type of silly (and dangerous) behavior that gives police a bad name in this country -- and makes people think the police are incompetent and unfair. And that's a shame, since there are many thousands of competent police officers who do their job the right way.

And let me add one more thing -- it is never un-American to criticize a government agency. That is the right of every citizen (even those in the media).


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm retired now, but I always treated people fairly and did the job right -- and it makes me mad to see some jerk giving everyone a bad name for not following the rules.

  2. As you said the video speaks volumes, loudly and clearly. The cop was in attack mode and has NO excuse.

    1. That's certainly the way I saw it, and there was no excuse for it.


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