Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Killing of Walter L. Scott by Police Officer Michael T. Slager

Don’t hate me because I occasionally listen to Sean Hannity.  I suppose in that I am somewhat of a conservative and a supporter of law enforcement, as is apparently Mr. Hannity, we agree on many issues.  That said, he nonetheless can have an annoying habit of belaboring a point, while attempting to make his point.

I happened to hear a recent Hannity interview of Sheriff David Clarke, Jr., Milwaukee County, Wisconsin – a very impressive guy.  For those who are not familiar with the Sheriff, he is a well-spoken professional, and a staunch supporter of law enforcement and the judicial system.  Furthermore, he happens to be African American.

The focus of the interview was about the recent killing of Walter L. Scott (Black) by a North Charleston police officer, Michael T. Slager (White).  (Yes, I’ve seen the video.)  And, from my perspective, there does not seem to be any reasonable justification for the shooting – including the situation, rounds fired, and the failure to offer immediate medical assistance.  Was it racist in nature?  One could easily draw that conclusion.

What became irritating in the interview was Hannity’s repeated efforts to draw Clarke, a professional law enforcement person, into stating that the shooting was little more than a cold-blooded murder.  Hannity kept asking the Sheriff if he could “imagine” any logical or professionally warranted reason for the shooting.  The Sheriff refused to take the bait, stating the judicial system needs to work through the process, the matter thoroughly investigated.  Hannity refused to accept that answer saying:  “Yes, but can you imagine a reason?”  The Sheriff was cordial, but declined to offer any ‘imagined’ explanation.

Good for you Sheriff.

So, you might ask, what’s your point?

I suppose my point is the contrast between Sheriff Clarke’s professional demeanor and opinions and the lame, misguided, often unprofessional opinions of Eric Holder, our Attorney General and others like New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio.  Sheriff Clarke gave me hope that there are still real professionals out there.

OK, I’m no longer in law enforcement and certainly do not have any actual or moral responsibility in that profession.  Therefore, I can offer an opinion.

This may surprise some of you (well, no it probably won’t), but there are bad cops and bad FBI Agents.  Many former cops and some former FBI Agents are presently serving long prison terms – some serving ‘life.’  Slager appears to be a bad cop.  However, he is entitled to a trial where all the evidence can be presented, not just this one video that has swept the internet.

What bothers me I suppose is that bad cops and bad FBI Agents don’t just suddenly materialize.  There are warnings, indications and behaviors that supervisory personnel have not recognized, or might have ignored.  If Slager is convicted, I’d be willing to bet that there is some of this deviant behavior in his professional background.

Many would say that Slager is a ‘racist,’ that the shooting was racially motivated, and that racism permeates many law enforcement agencies.  Objectively and statistically we know that is not necessarily true.  Most cops are White males.  Black males are disproportionately involved in criminal activity.  It’s bound to happen.  And it should be noted, cops occasionally and wrongfully shoot White men too.

A personal observation:  I was a deputy sheriff many years ago.  We had some real losers on the department – that’s for sure.  The FBI’s vetting process was far more stringent.  However, and I’ve said this before, some of the best people I’ve ever met were Agents; and some of the biggest losers I’ve ever met were Agents.  While in the Bureau, I thought more than once, “I can’t believe they actually allow this guy to carry a gun.”  These weren’t necessarily stupid individuals, but some did not have a lick of common sense.  They were obviously miscast in their current occupation.

Therefore, my advice when dealing with law enforcement personnel is try to be respectful, never resist arrest, never run from a police officer.  You never know when you’re dealing with a ‘loose cannon.’  Most police officers, by far, are good, decent, honorable people – but not all – that’s for sure.

True Nelson
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