Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How would you like to die?

Living well is best. Dying well is next best. Living badly is worst.

On Valentine's Day of this year, a horrible person murdered 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, kicking off an enormous clash about gun control, almost immediately.

The murderer was 19 a years old man, and had been identified as a dangerous person before. In fact, friends and counselors had called the FBI about him. He slipped through. It happens. He committed these crimes, and no one else is blame.

During the murders, there were heroes. A coach who shielded the bodies of children as he died. A 15 year-old ROTC student who held the door to get more kids evacuated out of the building. There were others.

One of those heroes was not School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, who "took a position" outside a door of the building where 900 students were, and listened to the shooting continue for four minutes. To make this clear: this man was an armed, sworn deputy, who was made aware of shooting in a school, where his primary duty was to see to the safety of students there, and he did nothing.

There are those who would argue that a man with a pistol has little to no chance against a man with a working AR-15. As a rule of thumb, it is true that any rifle is superior in a gunfight to any service pistol. And I could argue right back that in a majority of the cases in which a shooter was confronted by armed response, the shooter has either given himself up, or killed himself, ending the killing in either instance, for the vast majority of the cases.

But the odds are not the issue. The duty is. Each shot is potentially a student dying. Each moment's delay can mean yet another mother's child being taken. It is imperative to not-walk-but-run toward the sound of that gunfire, and stop the killing.

This deputy has trained with his weapon for over twenty years. If he hadn't settled this in his head beforehand, he was criminally negligent in his duties.

Some might say that the issue was his training. Back when I went to police academy in 1994, the training was to form a perimeter, and wait for SWAT. Certainly a single officer wasn't supposed to go in alone. (I clearly remember sitting in the back of the classroom, and thinking that this was a hill that I would die upon; I would take whatever write-ups they cared to throw at me, but I was going in.) The massacre at Columbine High School in 1998 changed that doctrine forever. The doctrine since the turn of the century has been to go in hard and fast and take the shooter out. We are specifically trained to step over and past the wounded, to rapidly close distance with the shooter, and take him out without any warning. This is as it should be. It is not a secret. It is how you help the bleeding and those yet unwounded.  How could a man or woman assigned to the duty of being a School Resource Officer not have studied this topic?

It is rare in one's life that one can recognize such an important crossroads, illuminated so clearly as this one.  One could absolutely guard one's own life, forsaking his moral duty to act, and die several decades later in one's bed, aware for the remainder of his life that he was living the life of a coward. One could swallow one's fear, and attack the killer, and fail. This would be horrible, because it would mean that one didn't stop the killer. But it's a worthy death, to die in the attempt to stop the murder of children. In fact, if an officer stopped the killer, but the officer was killed as well in the engagement, that is not a failure.  It is sub-optimal, but the goal was achieved: the killer was stopped. Dying while SAVING the lives of children is so much more preferable than dying of old age, after failing to even try. I am not suggesting that one should martyr one's self; I'm simply saying that one should fear the long life of a coward, rather than the quick and worthy death of a peacekeeper.  

My excellent friend and colleague LawDog said it better, here.

I was discussing this with friends recently, and one good friend cautioned (correctly, of course) not to give the impression that one should hope to find such an event occur. I agreed, but shared the following:
Back when I was a rookie working evening shift, I caught my first Sexual Assault case. My chief happened to drop by the police department at that time, and he took it off my hands. I had been flustered and out of my depth. My chief at the time was an expert at such cases. He said afterwards, “I am sorry that the event occurred, but I am so glad that it happened when and where I could do something about it.” He had skills that the average beat cop did not. He applied those skills to take care of the problem (the actor got 20 years, IIRC). I probably would have muffed it.
Living well is best. Dying well is next best. Living badly is worst.

Choose wisely. And train.

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13 Comments:

At Sunday, February 25, 2018 8:45:00 AM, Anonymous thinkingman said...

Well said. The Coach who shielded students with his body, the ROTC student, both displayed selfless action in the face of near certain death ( both being unarmed )They deserve lasting posthumous honors. The so called school resource officer, the coward who waited outside for the shooting to stop , so he could ( as I have heard is a performance goal that is actually taught in , at least, the police academy I "attended, and is taught in many varied training classes ) "GO HOME SAFE AT NTHE END OF MY SHIFT " . Such a notion has become the Prime Directive, and , as demonstrated, results in cops who Fail To Engage. There is cowardice in that concept, and the lack of the usual cadre of Bling- Badge ( doesn't really mean anything, but LOOKS like authority ) wearing LEOs jumping to the defense of the coward school resource deputy, for taking up a position outside. What he hoped to accomplish there had nothing to do with saving high school students.

 
At Sunday, February 25, 2018 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

You and LawDog both hit the nail on the head. There was a duty to perform, and he failed miserably...

 
At Sunday, February 25, 2018 4:37:00 PM, Blogger JPG said...

I've been trying to compose adequate remarks but was still groping. I cannot improve on what you have written. I am very proud to read your thoughts on this topic.
JPG

 
At Monday, February 26, 2018 5:13:00 PM, Blogger James Storyteller Pritchett said...

It is better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a coward.

 
At Monday, February 26, 2018 5:14:00 PM, Blogger James Storyteller Pritchett said...

It is better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a sheep.

 
At Tuesday, February 27, 2018 4:51:00 PM, Blogger Carteach said...

As I age, the thought of a straw death weighs heavy on my mind.

But... far, far worse...... that I would live as those creatures do.

Amen, my brother.

 
At Wednesday, February 28, 2018 3:27:00 PM, Blogger Vader said...

Pistol versus rifle has had good outcomes before. Just google Vic Stacy and Sgt. Steven Means of the Early, Tx police department.

 
At Thursday, March 01, 2018 5:25:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Well, yeah, Vader. Obviously.
But if you will read my full statement, I said, "There are those who would argue that a man with a pistol has little to no chance against a man with a working AR-15. As a rule of thumb, it is true that any rifle is superior in a gunfight to any service pistol. And I could argue right back that in a majority of the cases in which a shooter was confronted by armed response, the shooter has either given himself up, or killed himself, ending the killing in either instance, for the vast majority of the cases."

But if two people have equal skill levels, the guy with the rifle certainly has an advantage over the guy with a pistol. That doesn't matter. You go, anyway. That's the duty.
But isn't it nice to know that if you go, and apply yourself, you have a really good chance of stopping the killing, even so?

 
At Friday, March 02, 2018 10:24:00 AM, Blogger JPG said...

RE: Good man with a pistol Versus bad man with rifle, both equally trained. An old adage, attributed to various Texas Rangers: "No man in the wrong can stand against a man in the right, who keeps on coming."

In other words, "You go anyway. That's the duty."

 
At Saturday, March 03, 2018 1:33:00 PM, Blogger James Storyteller Pritchett said...

Personal comment :After a battle with Big C, I have become aware of my own mortality. Having placed myself in harms way for others, I will stand proud.
But we are all missing a central part of this scenario, the battle ground. In an open ground conflict,even if the open is 50 meters or more,the riffle will reign. However we are talking of short range, building interior CQC, I would call it for all intents, even. So now it comes down to the final number in the equation, the operator. A trained and aggressive warrior will consistently win over the better armed, lesser trained, less aggressive "civilian". I believe Cooper's writing will bare that out.
But hey, I've been wrong before.

 
At Tuesday, March 13, 2018 11:43:00 AM, Blogger EMS Artifact said...

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

From "Julius Ceasar" by Wm. Shakespeare

 
At Tuesday, March 13, 2018 1:24:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

I can't believe that I basically paraphrased _J.C._ by Shakespeare here, and didn't reference that.

 
At Thursday, March 29, 2018 6:20:00 PM, Blogger Mike Doyle said...

Bit late to the party, but... Speaking as a retired jail deputy, yeah, you go in, full tilt boogie, and ask how soon on the way back out. Not because I'm some kind of tactical ninja commando warrior...

Not because I want to be a brave hero...

Because I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't...

 

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