You Betrayed Them

Dr. Michael A. Crain I, D.Min.:

I saw this article and it brought me to tears. Who betrayed those officers?

Originally posted on House to Home:

police

I was driving to a Christmas party when my phone rang. I heard the words and my heart felt shattered. Every fear, every worry, every feeling of panic came rushing into my throat and I couldn’t stop it. I had to stop it. My babies were with me. I was about to meet new people and see old friends. It was a party. Everyone’s supposed to be happy. My heart felt ripped to shreds. I kept looking at my phone, even though I knew there would be nothing good to see. My face kept smiling, my mouth kept speaking but my heart was racing and the tears were always right beneath the surface.

Today it was them. You don’t know them. They’re just names to you. To some of you, they are symbols of heroism and honor, but to many of you they are symbols of “oppression” and “brutality.”

Today…

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This Chaplain’s take on the events in Cleveland

Warning: This is long.

Disclaimer: This is written as a perspective, not official guidance on the law or police procedures. If you have questions on your laws and ordinances, seek professional guidance. This article (nor its author) may not necessarily represent the opinions and thoughts of the Cleveland Police Department (or any of its members), or the City of Cleveland, or any agency the author is affiliated with.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, here is how I come to the following conclusions. I’ve been around public safety since 2008 and a Chaplain since 2012. I’ve spent over 500 hours in a police cruiser with police. I have been in situations that I thought I might have to use a weapon in defense, or almost hit by a passing car in traffic. I have not come to these conclusions lightly, but I have used my training and experiences, experiences that I know most people do not have or understand.

By now most of us have seen the video of the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, 2014. Two Cleveland police officers, Timothy Loehmann, 26, and Frank Garmback,46, responded after receiving a dispatch call describing a “young black male” brandishing a gun at people in a city park. The officers stated that during the confrontation, Rice reached towards a gun in his waistband. Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds of arriving on the scene, hitting Rice once in the torso.The gun turned out to be an Airsoft gun. Rice died the following day.

  1. He was pulling in and out of his waistband. You see in the video that he was clearly pointing this weapon at people. Those people may or may not have know that the gun was only an air soft gun.
  2. “Rice was just a child”. While Tamir was a child, and 12 years old, his appearance my not have made that easily identifiable. According to the autopsy, Tamir was 5:7 and weighed 195 pounds. Tamir’s appearance was “consistent with the reported age of 12 years old or older,” the autopsy said. I joined the military in 1995 at the height of 5:10 and 185 pounds. So even from up close, he may not have given the appearance of “a child”. In addition, the initial radio contact from the officers on scene was “Shots fired, male down, black male, maybe 20.”
  3. “Children can not be dangerous, especially to grown men”. This has been proven false numerous times. For example:
    This is roughly the age that gang involvement and initiations begin.
    12 Year old kills a homeless man in Florida.
    Boy, 12, stabbed baby brother to death.
    Boy, 12, charged with murder in playground stabbing.
    10-year-old boy confesses to killing 90-year-old woman.

    I could go on, but you see the point. Minors can definitely be dangerous. The other factor is this: If the minor has a weapon and knows how to use it, they are armed and dangerous. If they do not know how to use it, the weapon is still dangerous, because it can fire due to neglect or carelessness and hurt/kill anyone around them.

  4. “Killed because of a toy gun”. What people infer is that since we NOW KNOW that the gun was a Airsoft gun, the police did not have to shoot. While this statement is true, it is only true at face value. The officers were not aware that the gun was an Airsoft gun. Only after examined up close were they able to determine that fact. So based on the information they had, they thought someone was pointing a gun at people walking by. In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989), the United States Supreme Court held that the “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. Pp. 490 U. S. 396-397.

    In an initial statement following the tragic incident, a Cleveland Police spokesperson said, “Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso.”

    So the point here is that given the information they had, did they do what a “reasonable” officer would do in the situation. Is it reasonable to shoot someone who attempts to go to their waistband for a gun? I would say “Yes it is”. Is it reasonable to do it when it is a child, even if it may be (or even looks fake)? I again would say it is. And while some would like to rush to judgement based on the facts as we know them now, the Graham v. Connor standard mandates that officers be judged on the information they have.

    I hope this article is informative and help put the Rice shooting in some perspective.

    If you are one of my LEO friends and you have additional thoughts, examples or clarification, please let me know and I’ll update the article.

Please distribute to all Police, Paramedic, Fire and Dispatch personnel – Merry Christmas 2014

First, I again want to say thank you to all the Chiefs, Sheriffs, Officers, Administrators, and fellow Chaplains who have made it possible for me to distribute this message.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For those of you in stations or cars working during the holidays, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your family are making while ensuring our safety and security. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

If anything marks the holidays, it’s a sense of gratitude (hopefully). I know that we sometimes see the worst that society has to offer, and the holidays may seem like anything but gratitude. But what I’m coming to know more and more as I get older, that gratitude can be anywhere, and will be there when you least expect it. Sometimes you just have to know where to look. Just like most people, I can get disappointed, agitated, disillusioned, or just plan cynical. Sometimes we have bad days. Today, as I write this email, it was a bad day for me. Horrible really. But then took time to read a card I got in the mail. It was from a dispatcher far away from where I live who read my email and took the time to reply and it turned my day around (and if that person reads this before you get my reply, it is coming!).

So what do we do when we get to the end of the year and our “tank is empty” so to speak?

  1. Count your blessings  – A wise person challenged me to do a gratitude jar recently. So you get this jar and every time something good happens to you, you scribble it down and put it in the jar. Someone buy your lunch? Out it in the jar. Someone shook your hand at the gas station? Put it in the jar. Find a $5 bill in a parking lot? Put it in the jar. Then when you have those bad days, look at the jar. Maybe even read some. Use than money to buy your lunch.
  2. Open your eyes – If you tell me nothing good ever happens to you, or that no one ever cares, I challenge you to look closer. It might not happen every day but I bet that more happens than we notice! And the mid has a funny way of working. If you start noticing even the small things over the next few weeks, guess what will happen. You will see more good things than before.
  3. Don’t wait for big things – Some people wait forever for their “ship to come in” and it never does, so they get disillusioned. Life is too short. Take note of the small things. If you wait your whole life to win the lottery, you will be passing up so many good things that others would give anything for.
  4. Have “A Person” – Have someone in your life that can call you out when you are in a dark place. I have a few that can do that. When I start the “woe is me” they get to tell me what I am failing to see. Let me be honest, no one likes being called out. But it just might help you see how good things really are.

In closing, I know that some of you think that this is all crazy. You “live in the real world”. Maybe you don’t see anything good in your life right now. Just give what I said a try. What do you have to lose? If I’m wrong then all you are out is a few minutes and a dollar for a jar. But, if I’m right, you can be happier this time next year.

During the holidays, I always put in this information, because I know that someone may need it. The holidays are meant to be times of joy, happiness, time with those we love and hope. While it can produce stress for even the best of us, for some of you can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. It can be hard to balance out what you have to deal with and still know that there are great people in society as well. I also know that it’s hard for us to reach out sometimes (and I’m no exception to this rule). If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, and any other Supervisor available for help. There is also other Clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. My phone is always on and I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, send an email. Reach out if you need to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for 2015. I’ve said it before and will say it again, you all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

Thoughts from Doc – Video recording Police

Disclaimer: This is written as a perspective, not official guidance on the law or police procedures. If you have questions on your laws and ordinances, seek professional guidance. This article, or my views, may not necessarily represent the opinions and thoughts of any agency that I (the author) is affiliated with. They are strictly my own. Any real-life scenario will have any information withheld that would be considered confidential or identifying information.


I just wanted to come out and post a few quick thoughts on recording the police. Some people (including anti-cop groups) are encouraging everyone to  “record all contact with police.”  Here is my thoughts about that.

One face value (and some of my LEO friends may disagree), I don’t see a problem with it being recorded. When I think back on my experience (almost 500 hours inside a police car), the overwhelming majority of that time would not reveal anything wrong, or improper. It would show that the overwhelming majority of that time the officers have been professional, dedicated, courteous, and accommodating (even to those who were placed under arrest). But it’s not the majority that these folks are after, and quite frankly I don’t think that they care. I’ll give you a personal example.

Scenario: I am with a police department who gets a call for a missing child. We catch the suspect who is extremely uncooperative with officers. He admits to maybe knowing where the child is located, but is belligerent to anyone talking to him.

So , had this entire thing been recorded, what would they have seen? Was the suspect handled rough? Was he treated graciously? In the real life case he was treated kind, far better than I think he deserved. But it could just as easily go the other way. If the officer didn’t guide his head properly and he hit his head on the door, you become an internet sensation. “Officer XYZ when talking to this helpless teen bashed his head on the side of the car. #StopAbusiveCops.” What if it was very hot or cold and you left him outside so you could talk to him and not break your neck trying to turn around in the cramped car? “Officer XYZ leave defenseless young man in the hot sun for hours while questioning him. #StopPoliceBrutality”

See a problem there? Out of a hour or so incident, someone took 5 seconds to prove their own agenda that all cops are bad, and that police brutality is intolerable. Then we all get to see that picture on the internet a thousand times. And does that cop have any recourse? Can he stop the flow of misinformation? And taken out of it’s context, you have “proof” of brutality that doesn’t really exist when it’s viewed in context.

I know some of you are saying “That doesn’t happen” or  “You are minimizing the significance of the proof”. I’m not saying that every cop is perfect, that brutality doesn’t exist, or that there are no bad cops out there. What I am saying is this: I don’t object to anyone videoing the interaction. What I object to is the ability to throw a 30 second video or a couple of pictures taken completely out of context. In addition to that, where is the right of the office to face his accusers? Where is the right of the suspect for fair treatment (I mean, the suspect may not want that picture/video out either)? And on the flip side, what if we recorded you at your job? Do you always give 100% all day, every day? Because that one time you don’t, I’ll make sure all your friends and family (and boss) see you sleeping on the job, shopping online, or sticking that pencil in your pocket.

Fairness, and context is all I ask.

Distribution: Please distribute to all law enforcement personnel – Thanksgiving 2014

As always, I want to say thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to distribute this message. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your assistance. I also want to thank you, the reader. You don’t have to read my notes, but you do. Because of that, I hope you walk away a better or happier person because of it.

For some of us, it has been a rough year. It’s been a year of the media frenzies. We have added pressure to get the support of the public more than before, all that on top of our regular training and our jobs. I can be tiring, and if we let it, it will kill our satisfaction with our careers and the jobs that we do. It can turn us into bitter people…if we let it.

I know holidays are stressful times for us. Everyone running around, running to the store, running to get this or that. Schedules can make that even worse. We may celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday with our family because we have to work all day on Thursday. Maybe we get off in time, but because of “the job” we don’t feel like being thankful for anything. Most of us have heard the Nietzsche quote “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” You fight with monsters. It may be monsters of crime, destructive natural events, fire, and death. It’s a fight that you wage every day. You slow people down because “Speed kills”. You tireless work to get the message out to “change your batteries when you change your clock”. You are constantly working against the “golden hour”. So what do we do to break the cycle? What do we do to shield ourselves from the “abyss” and fight back our inner monsters? Here are some tips that I’ve come up with and some that others have given me:

1) Don’t take work home with you. Most of us have things that we do so we don’t “bring the job home”. But what if we have to work Thanksgiving? I’ve had spouses tell me that they celebrate the next whole day that their officer is off. So whatever day you are off, be off. Set it aside for you and your families.
2) Do something unexpected for someone. I know that you give A LOT on your jobs, so asking for more may seem too much. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, and they don’t even have to know. You can leave a card in someone’s box. You can leave a gift certificate to someone that needs help. You can invite a friend over for dinner who doesn’t have anywhere to go. I always feel happier when I do something for someone else.
3) Make a list of things you have to be thankful for. We see it on social media during this time of year. But you don’t have to do it that way. Write down a list and look at it every day. Add stuff along the way.
4) Watch a cartoon. Seriously. I’m going to watch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” with my family.
5) Do something crazy or fun that you normally wouldn’t do. One year one of our officers wore a Santa hat to work on Christmas. I personally thought that was great.
6) Take some time to find your family history. This may take some time, but it will be worth it. You can find out all kinds of things online.

Finally, as we approach “the holidays”, I usually advise that the holidays can be a time of sadness, frustration or depression. If you find yourself struggling in this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your departments may have Employee Assistance Care, Chaplains, Chiefs, other supervisors, clergy and/or even friends for guidance and assistance should you need it. I’ll make myself available to help you in any way that I can. Call us, grab us after roll call, or send an email. Reach out if you need to. Life is a battle best fought with others.

I’ve said it in every email, and every chance I get. I’ve said it to the chiefs and administrators when I contact them. I’ve said it to you on the parks and restaurants. You all are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain it’s not nearly enough.

This Chaplain’s take on the events in Beavercreek

Warning: This is long.

Disclaimer: This is written as a perspective, not official guidance on the law or police procedures. If you have questions on your laws and ordinances, seek professional guidance. This article (nor its author) may not necessarily represent the opinions and thoughts of the Beavercreek Police Department (or any of its members), or the City of Beavercreek, or any agency the author is affiliated with.

By now most of us have seen the video of the shooting that took place in Wal-Mart in Beavercreek back in August. So for those of you who follow me, I want to clear up a few points in this article.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, here is how I come to the following conclusions. I’ve been around public safety since 2008 and a Chaplain since 2012. I’ve spent over 500 hours in a police cruiser with police. I have been in situations that I thought I might have to use a weapon in defense, or almost hit by a passing car in traffic. I have not come to these conclusions lightly, but I have used my training and experiences, experiences that I know most people do not have or understand.

1) This thing about the gun John Crawford was holding was a “toy” or a “BB Gun”. It was neither, it was an “air rifle”, which is very different. There is even a warning on the box “This is not a toy”, it was a MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/Pellet Rifle, manufactured by Crosman. And while most reports are that it is unlikely that the MK-177 would kill a human, it “can kill squirrels, snakes, rabbits or small birds if aimed properly.” That being said, I think the fact some are overlooking is that the air rife he was holding was DESIGNED to look like it’s assault counter part.

2) That he was not “waiving it around or pointing it at people.” This is only sort of true. First, keep in mind that the video we see, Crawford is out of the picture for over two minutes according to the FBI. A lot can happen in two minutes they we might not be able to see. That being said, he was swinging the weapon around, alternating from pointed up to pointed down. So he WAS waiving it around.

3) “Ritchie should be charged”. Let’s set the stage for the 911 call. Now whether the caller did anything wrong or not it isn’t my call. However, to get a charge for abuse of 911, here is the snippet from the Ohio Revised Code.


(E) No person shall knowingly use the telephone number of a 9-1-1 system established under this chapter to report an emergency if the person knows that no emergency exists.
(F) No person shall knowingly use a 9-1-1 system for a purpose other than obtaining emergency service.

Now I’m not a legal expert, but it appears to get this charge to “stick” you would have to PROVE he called 911 knowing “that no emergency exists” or he was using it “for a purpose other than obtaining emergency service” . He may have thought it was real or there was an emergency at the time, and as long as that is the case, he did not abuse the 911 service. And based on the justice system we have, you are innocent until proven guilty. So what was Ritchie not charged? My conjecture is that given the law above, they can not prove he “abused 911″.

4) “Since the gun was not real, the Beavercreek officers should not have taken the action of assuming Crawford was armed and dangerous.” This is based on a faulty understanding of police tactics. There are two ways to look at this type of call. It can be considered “a man with a gun” or an “active shooter”. While the first can be dangerous, the latter is usually always dangerous to citizens and officers.

Let’s take for example that I am coming from /going to the gun range with a handgun. Places like Wal-Mart and Kroger do not prohibit me from having a firearm on the premises. So I walk in with my holstered firearm on my hip. Someone gets “scared” and calls 911 to report that I have a gun. At this time they are truly concerned and the local police dispatch to Wal-Mart. They see me and knowing my firearm is holstered and I am making no dangerous signs, they feel free to strike up a conversation, they may do nothing at all, or they may hang around for a little to see what I intend to do. For this scenario, I am “a man with a gun”.

An “active shooter” scenario is much different. The FBI defines it as this: “An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, and recent active shooter incidents have underscored the need for a coordinated response by law enforcement and others to save lives.” Now I am headed into a location for the specific reason of taking as many casualties as I can before I exit (usually suicide when they see cops closing in). Active shooters don’t care about money and negotiation is out. To them, the end game is already mapped out for them. The only way to save lives is to “eliminate the threat” before they have the chance to take/take more lives. We see what happens when we wait by looking at Columbine. The training of the day was to lock down the perimeter and wait for SWAT. We know now that costs way too many lives. Then it became a 4 man team (you have to wait for 3 other officers) then to a two-man team, and some places even talk about a solo officer taking out the threat.

So based on the information they had, they thought they were going into an active shooter situation. In which case the procedure is to confront and stop the threat.

In Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)
, the United States Supreme Court held that the “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. Pp. 490 U. S. 396-397.

Sergreant Darkow and Officer Williams both stated that Crawford was asked to put the weapon down and did not. However, even if that was not the case, if he thought he or someone else was in danger he had the legal right to use deadly force. Then the Grand Jury concluded that he did what he was trained to do and what a reasonable officer would do in the situation. So what we can not do is come behind an officer when more facts or testimony is out and judge based on what “we now know.”. The only thing relevant , based on the law, is the information the officers had at the time and whether or not that acted from the perspective of a “reasonable officer on the scene”. The Grand Jury, determining that fact, declined to charge the officers with any criminal act.

I hope this article is informative and help put the WalMart shooting in perspective.

If you are one of my LEO friends and you have additional thoughts, examples or clearification, please let me know and I’ll update the article.

What’s up with all the anti-cop stuff?

In the weeks since what happened in Ferguson, New York City, and here locally in Beavercreek, I’ve seen that police is a very polarizing issue. I’ve seen and heard lots of positive comments from people with my involvement with the “I Support the Beavercreek Police”, and from folks on Twitter and Facebook across the nation. However, I have seen some VERY negative comments, including personal attacks. I’ve been told I’m a “white supremacist, black lynching, hillbilly monster”, that I’m a murderer (because I support the officers in question) and that should just “rot in hell”.

So what is my take on some of the issues? For those of you who don’t know me, here is how I come to the following conclusions. I’ve been around public safety since 2008 and a Chaplain since 2012. I’ve spent over 500 hours in a police cruiser with police. I have been in situations that I thought I might have to use a weapon in defense, or almost hit by a passing car in traffic.

Complaint 1: “No one trusts the police” – Here is my “official” opinion. We can not cite low “trust” in police without taking a look at the broader picture, and this is what various police sources have been telling officers in the last few months (that I have seen) – people do not trust any form of government. The president has a low approval/trust rating. So does congress. So does state and local governments. And enforcement of the laws passed by these governments come down to one group of people. Most of us have seen the pictures from anti-police organizations with instance of abuse by police. (I’m not going to say that there are no bad cops, or that some do not follow procedure, or that none of them abuse their power.) However, for every one of those that I’ve seen I can produce at least twice as many of officers doing amazing things in their community. Buying meals, sports equipment, or furniture with their own money for people. Storied of officers adopting children of murder victims. I can also provide a list of names of the over 100 officers that die in the line of duty every year. And when you have cultures who wholesale teach (in word, deed or song) not only to not trust them but make heroes out of people who attack (physically or otherwise) then we have a huge problem. To clarify that statement, that is not a racial thing. There are places in the US (Eastern KY, Montana, etc) and groups like Sovereign Citizens who not only “don’t recognize” federal or state law enforcement, is cases like the Sovereign Citizens movement advocate the murder of Federal LEO’s.

Complaint 2: “Police don’t care about ‘public relations’ anymore” – No I’m not a strategy guy. I’ve never been to the academy. But very few departments have anyone dedicated to “public relations” because they are busy doing an increasingly harder job with increasingly few resources. There are some departments that I know that are so short-handed, that some officers work almost as much overtime as regular hours. So it’s rare that a department (especially local smaller ones) can afford to have an officer dedicated to the PR function. And some who do , they do it on their own time. They manage the department’s Facebook page at home. Some rural departments the officers do a 12 hour shift, and go home and repair their own cruiser. I’ve been in one.

Complaint 3: “The police is too militarized.” – We complain we cops get RE-ISSUED equipment from the military, but no one seems to care when they are driving Crown Vics that are 15 or 20 years old. I have been in them. We complain that they have “scary guns” (hey I’ve handled an M4 and that would qualify if it’s coming at me) but no one seems to notice that some are using far outdated weapons and in cases they are FAR out-gunned by the locals (good or bad) in the area. It’s called “parity of force”. The most common department cited is Ferguson, keep this in mind: They rolled in with those AFTER they are assaulted with rocks, guns, bricks and Molotov cocktails. “So if you up the ante against me, it will come back and bite you, because I am going home tonight to my family.” As for body armor and Kevlar, it has saved the lives of countless officers, so as far as I am concerned, they can wear it all they want. When I was in a disaster area for almost a week (Tornado ravaged KY) all the KSP, and local officers were in camouflage and had weapons like the M4. And no one complained except a few people and those who were trying to loot. And why wear camo? Because it is more durable and functional in high stress or high use incidents.

I’m sure there are more, but I wanted to touch the big ones, from a Chaplain’s perspective. Can departments do more? Sure. Can they appear less aggressive? Maybe. But I place my family’s safety way over my neighbor’s touchy feely experiences any day.

Thank you for reading and I hope you were able to glean from this article.

If you are one of my LEO friends and you have additional thoughts, examples or clearification, please let me know and I’ll update the article.