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Giles should have complied on Taser incident

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:53 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two recent occurrences, one national and one local, have brought this popular 1975 Statler Brothers refrain to mind: “Whatever happened to Randolph Scott riding the train alone? Whatever happened to Gene and Roy and Tex and Rex, the Durango Kid?” This song, aimed at the deterioration of time-honored values in the movie industry, is easily recognized as an indictment of a similar degrading of common sense and courtesy today.

For the benefit of readers who might not be familiar with both, the incidents in question are the arrests following verbal and physical confrontations of Harvard Professor Henry Gates at his home in Cambridge, Mass. and of Carl Alan Giles outside the Cafe Berlin in Columbia. While the circumstances leading to the arrests were dissimilar, they shared at least two common attributes.

First and foremost, one confronted by a police officer in performance of his/her duty is expected to practice sound judgment in affording the on-scene officer the benefit of the doubt — that there is a valid reason for that police presence and that it behooves one to be attentive to that authority. I am not so naive as to believe that law enforcement officers are incapable of wrong. Physical or verbal confrontation, however, will only result in the arrest of the person of interest.

Regrettably, the second similarity is one that happens with unerring regularity — the inane, knee jerk reactions by persons who were neither at the scene nor have any knowledge of the incident other than unfounded rumor or their own preordained conclusions. In the former, President Barack Obama embarrassed himself unnecessarily by offering an opinion without being a party to the facts. In the latter, one who purports to be a journalist, used this very medium to exercise an overt distrust of police officers and deliver an uninformed indictment of guilt from across the Atlantic.

As an opinion writer, far be it from me to deny anyone their inalienable right to an opinion and the privilege of expressing it. Nevertheless, to be relevant, the sentiment must be an informed and an objective one. While the president, because of his official stature, should have been more circumspect in his response, one might be induced to give him a pass inasmuch as he was somewhat blindsided by a subject not in context with the subject he was addressing.

In all fairness, I cannot afford former Missourian reporter Paul Weber that courtesy. An objective journalist does not cherry-pick isolated incidents and conclude therefrom, “a pattern of police aggression where officers systematically transform a nonviolent situation into a violent spectacle” or allude to, “The disturbing reality that there are certainly countless other cases when people weren't around to watch.” These are quotes from Weber's previous commentary. Admittedly, police officers are not immune to lapses in judgment and occasional excesses of force, but they have to answer for them while those who second-guess and cheap-shot do so for free.

The lesson from the Gates and Giles incidents, and their subsequent arrests, is one the majority of us learned at home, in school and in church — that of behaving oneself and of treating those obviously in authority with respect. Professor Gates, regardless of fatigue or racial overtones, is a tenured university professor and a respected member of the community and should have realized that Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley had a reason for being at his residence. Accordingly, he could have complied with the ID request and, if he believed the intrusion to have been untoward, taken it to higher authority for redress.

As for Mr. Giles and the altercation at Cafe Berlin, it appears that had he merely complied with Columbia Police Officer Jared Fielding's instructions, the incident would not have escalated to physical activity. If, as the officer describes, Giles became uncooperative and aggressive and would not stay in place, Fielding had every reason to use necessary restraint for self protection and to control Mr. Giles. And, anyone who fails to realize the folly of resisting and wrestling the handcuffing officer to the ground has no business experimenting with adult beverages outside the home.

Admittedly, I have something in common with many who have chimed in on this and other arrests — none of us were there. I understand that much of the altercation was captured by police car dashboard cameras and am confident that this episode will be fully and fairly investigated by the Columbia Police Department. There is a process for reporting and handling of complaints of police malfeasance — it does not include resisting apprehension nor reaching conclusions without facts.

Columbia, as with most other municipalities, is host to a smattering of individuals, organizations and special interest groups inclined to find fault with the police in almost every controversial incident and also to disbelieve the results of any investigation suggesting otherwise. Regrettably, these factions gather the most media ink, while those responsible to "preserve and protect" and place themselves in harm's way are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Greg Collins August 11, 2009 | 1:20 p.m.

"In all fairness, I cannot afford former Missourian reporter Paul Weber that courtesy. An objective journalist does not cherry-pick isolated incidents and conclude therefrom, “a pattern of police aggression where officers systematically transform a nonviolent situation into a violent spectacle” or allude to, “The disturbing reality that there are certainly countless other cases when people weren't around to watch.”

Well stated, but the simple facts are ... the news business is no longer objective reporting, but commentary, analyses, and instruction for the public on "how" to react to events based on a particular bias held by reporter, editor and paper.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 11, 2009 | 1:57 p.m.

J. Karl Miller 100% on the money on this one for both incidents! When the officer tells you to do something you do it,do it now and you keep on doing it until you are released to go. That is the law.

You break the law you face the consequences.

Great editorial J. Karl Miller.

(Report Comment)
Linda Green August 11, 2009 | 10:45 p.m.

Mr. Miller: First, you are assuming that the police officer is telling the truth and that Giles is lying, as these two accounts appear to differ greatly. Perhaps reality is the other way around. The officer could be lying and Giles telling the truth. Giles said he took a few steps toward the officer in order to ask him a question. Do we know what order the officer gave Giles and when, and if Giles even heard him clearly?

Once during a routine traffic stop, I asked an officer a question and the officer ignored me. I repeated my question two more times and two more times my question was ignored. I was shocked that I did not even have the right to have my question answered. Perhaps I am lucky that this was before Columbia Police had TASERs. I learned that police can be quite rude and unresponsive. This makes me lean sympathetically toward Giles, who also tried to ask a question of police.

However, there are a lot of details to this story that we don't know, so we really need to reserve judgment.

What we do know about the Giles situation was that the officer suspected Giles urinated in the alley and that during the interchange with the police, Giles was slammed to the wall, pepper sprayed and TASERed twice to the point he could not stand up, and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. This certainly looks suspiciously like an extreme escalation of force by the police. And we need to keep in mind that TASER use by police is associated with several hundred deaths so far.

I really do wish the public could view the police video of this incident, as we would surely learn more than we know now. And the police need to release to the Coalition to Control TASERS all the records regarding this case and all the TASER cases since the PERF standards were adopted by Police Chief Burton. The public has the right to know what really is happening regarding police TASER use in Columbia, and to question very closely police use of this extremely dangerous and risky weapon.

We pay the salaries of the police and they are supposed to be working for us, the public, to keep us safe. Was the public served to this end in the case of Giles? Or did we see a very frightening display of police violence with risk of death to an individual who did little to provoke such a police attack? We need to know more to answer these questions. And we, the public, have every right to find out how and whether the police are doing the job.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 12, 2009 | 12:28 a.m.

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(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 4:26 a.m.

>>> And the police need to release to the Coalition to Control TASERS all the records regarding this case <<<

Why so you and the Taser Coalition can put CPD on trial in the open public just like a Kangaroo Court of sorts?

Sounds like you and the Taser Coalition have an agenda and that is to completely disarm CPD at all costs.

(Report Comment)
John Borgmeyer August 12, 2009 | 10:34 a.m.

Sorry Mr. Miller, but I don't decide complex issues by references to old movies (or old songs about old movies).

I too learned respect at home, school and church. But I don't see how that applies. Police are not our parents, teachers or gods. They are police, and we are citizens. They have certain powers, and we have certain rights.

We live in a Constitutional democracy, which means that the state derives its power from the people. We give the officers the limited power to enforce the laws. We do not give them the same absolute power that a father demands from a child.

So, if a police officer sees me acting suspiciously... say, creeping in the bushes outside a home...the officer may lawfully detain me to ask what I'm up to. If I flee or resist, the officer may use force. Not because I have "disrespected" him, but because the law gives him the power to investigate reasonably suspicious behavior.

However, if I'm walking down the sidewalk and the police officer asks "Who are you and what are you doing here?" I have every right to tell him to go jump in a lake (or words to that effect). The police officer's demand for information is unjustified by reasonable suspicion and therefore not lawful, and the officer is due no more or less respect than the average citizen. The police officer would not be justified in using force against me merely because the officer feels "insulted," or "disrepsected." Again, the officer's right to use force comes from his power to enforce the law, not his status as "authority."

So when the police officer learned that Mr. Gates was not comitting a crime, the officer should have left Mr. Gates' home. Period. Whatever Mr. Gates said is completely irrelevant. If there is no crime, there is no justification for the officer to use force. Insulting an officer in your own home is not a crime.

Police do not have the power to spank us for being rude or impolite. Police are our servants doing a difficult job, and so they deserve respect. But they are not our masters. They do not rule us by fear.

I encourage everyone to respect the police, and to also know your Constitutional rights.

(Report Comment)
Linda Green August 12, 2009 | 3:04 p.m.

The Columbia Police Department decided to order a number of TASERs which do not have the video option. They said they did this because, "The video was not reliable". My question is, if the TASER video is not reliable, how reliable is the TASER gun itself? Could this mean that the amount of electricity shot through someone varies and could be stronger and therefore more dangerous than it's supposed to be? Or could it be that the police do not want a visual record of their TASER use, as it could provide evidence against them?
I don't know the answers to these questions, but they are vital in this discussion.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 12, 2009 | 3:27 p.m.

Where are you pulling these alleged quotes from? Don't forget that it is the amperage and not the voltage one has to be concerned about, and that the actual voltage is much less than the (sorry, can't bold in 36 point like some would here) 50,000 volts some people have screamed from the rooftops.

From what I can recall of then-interim Capt. Dresner's Taser presentations in the council chambers after the McDuffy incident, I believe the reason to not order Tasers with cameras was price, bulkiness, and the video technology not being deployed for a very long length of time.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 3:54 p.m.

>>> I don't know the answers to these questions, but they are vital in this discussion. <<<

The only thing you think it is vital over is the number one reason I posted above in response to your last round of hounding CPD.

>>> Why so you and the Taser Coalition can put CPD on trial in the open public just like a Kangaroo Court of sorts?

Sounds like you and the Taser Coalition have an agenda and that is to completely disarm CPD at all costs. <<<

You do not have a clue because you have no idea at all what a police officer goes through daily in doing their jobs.

Leave the law enforcement to the law enforcement.

Same dam problems erupt in running wars is when you let civilians start telling the soldiers how to do their jobs when the civilians can't even manage their own dam lives to begin with.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 5:17 p.m.

>>> First and foremost, one confronted by a police officer in performance of his/her duty is expected to practice sound judgment in affording the on-scene officer the benefit of the doubt — that there is a valid reason for that police presence and that it behooves one to be attentive to that authority. I am not so naive as to believe that law enforcement officers are incapable of wrong. Physical or verbal confrontation, however, will only result in the arrest of the person of interest. <<<

The citizen in question also has the right to know whether and why they are being arrested or detained. Stepping towards an officer to ask such a question is exactly what it means to "be attentive to that authority." Verbal confrontation is a legally protected action, via the first amendment, and really, the officer has already initiated the verbal "confrontation," as we can see in the phrase, "one confronted by a police officer."

Also, the relation between a police officer and a citizen is not the same as the relation between, say, a Marine colonel and another Marine of lower rank. When an officer tells you to stay put, you are under no obligation to obey such an order without even knowing whether you are under arrest. This was not a traffic stop. Alan Giles was on foot in a public area and had every right to walk towards a police officer to ask a question, without that officer feeling unnecessarily threatened, to the point of pre-emptively "physically confronting" him.

>>> As an opinion writer, far be it from me to deny anyone their inalienable right to an opinion and the privilege of expressing it. Nevertheless, to be relevant, the sentiment must be an informed and an objective one. <<< >>> Admittedly, I have something in common with many who have chimed in on this and other arrests — none of us were there. <<<

Then how can your opinions, such as the title of your article, "Giles should have complied on Taser incident," claim to be any more "informed and objective" than any of ours? Statements such as "Anyone who fails to realize the folly of resisting and wrestling the handcuffing officer to the ground has no business experimenting with adult beverages outside the home," reveal a pre-existing bias towards siding with the police officer. Who are you to say, without having seen video coverage of the event, that Giles wrestled the officer to the ground, when it seems just as likely that the officer, in fact, wrestled Giles to the ground?

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 5:17 p.m.

>>> Admittedly, police officers are not immune to lapses in judgment and occasional excesses of force, but they have to answer for them while those who second-guess and cheap-shot do so for free. <<<

This is exactly as it should be, because when police officers use an excess of force, they are representing the state and using state-sanctioned weapons. When we "second-guess and cheap-shot," or in less insulting terms, when we open a dialogue about whether our public servants are actually serving the public, we are not using an excess of force. In fact, we are not using any force. So to say that we "do so for free" is misleading, because we are not actually doing so at all. "The inane, knee jerk reactions by persons who were neither at the scene nor have any knowledge of the incident" are far less damaging than the inane, knee jerk reactions by the officers who ARE at the scene.

>>> The lesson from the Gates and Giles incidents, and their subsequent arrests, is one the majority of us learned at home, in school and in church — that of behaving oneself and of treating those obviously in authority with respect. <<<

I want to say this with emphasis, but I know that typing in all caps is annoying. *** This is not the Marines. *** A police officer is NOT "obviously in authority." Until an arrest has been made, or until a police officer has legally detained a citizen, and they have full knowledge that they are being detained, a police officer is just a citizen, and owes us every bit as much respect as we owe them. If a police officer has the right to ask me for my identification, then I have the right to ask him for his name and badge number. If a police officer tells me, a free citizen who has not been arrested or detained, to stay put, I have every right to walk away. There is no question of authority, only intimidation.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 5:18 p.m.

>>> As for Mr. Giles and the altercation at Cafe Berlin, it appears that had he merely complied with Columbia Police Officer Jared Fielding's instructions, the incident would not have escalated to physical activity. If, as the officer describes, Giles became uncooperative and aggressive and would not stay in place, Fielding had every reason to use necessary restraint for self protection and to control Mr. Giles. <<<

In response to the first sentence, yes, but given that the officer's "instructions" carry no legal weight to a free citizen, the incident should not have escalated to physical activity even if Giles did not comply. If Giles became uncooperative and would not stay in place, then guess what? There is no law on the books that demands that a citizen who is not under arrest and is not being detained should be cooperative and stay in place. He can't very well resist arrest if he's not being arrested, can he? To ask whether he is under arrest does not constitute restisting an arrest that hasn't yet been made. In such a case, Fielding has no reason or right to "control Mr. Giles." If, however, Giles did actually become "aggressive," which I doubt, and which is also laughable given that the police officer was almost certainly being "aggressive" himself, then yes, the officer should use "necessary restraint for self protection," which common sense tells me does not include a taser in the back.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 5:18 p.m.

Colonel Miller, the main thrust of your article seems to be to drive home the message that we should all obey without question those in authority. I respect your position within the context of the military, which is most likely where this lesson was drilled into your head. However, it does not apply within the context of a free society. To ask us to accept without question the unjustified use of police force is to take a totalitarian attitude. We live, ostensibly, in a democracy, where ideally the laws that exist should reflect our own interests. In the case of unfair laws we have a legal course of action (some might call it a "duty") to change such a law. In the case of unfair enforcement of laws, which is a much more immediate problem, we have at least as much right and responsibility to correct such misuse of force. The police should be second-guessed. Every time force is used against a civilian, the citizens should come together and determine whether in their estimation it was a just or unjust use of force. If it was not, then measures should be taken to prevent similar occurances in the future. This is the system of checks and balances at its best.

The police force exists "to protect and serve," not themselves, but the public. It requires constant observation, dialogue, and analysis to determine whether they are actually protecting the public and serving the interests of the public. Without feedback, police action becomes severely out of sync with public need. Hostility towards police is a symptom, it is a signal that the police are not acting in our interests.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 12, 2009 | 5:25 p.m.

Chuck, you don't need to be so hard on polly wog. :) He raises interesting questions, and they will be answered soon.

Polly Wog said: "What we do know about the Giles situation was that the officer suspected Giles urinated in the alley and that during the interchange with the police, Giles was slammed to the wall, pepper sprayed and TASERed twice to the point he could not stand up, and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. This certainly looks suspiciously like an extreme escalation of force by the police. And we need to keep in mind that TASER use by police is associated with several hundred deaths so far."

Let me just comment on a few things. The investigation is nearly complete, and we will be releasing findings, including the video, soon.

You will be able to see the video, and I think that most will be surprised at how it differs from "what we do know."

As for the Coalition, and GRO, and PERF standards and such. They will get all reports that are legally able to be released. They always have. If they are trying to create an impression that we don't that's just inaccurate. Are they unhappy with our speed? Undoubtedly. But we have many legal considerations, and they're competing with about 50 other sunshine requests for records that we average PER DAY.

Finally, I would vigorously dispute that the TASER is extremely dangerous and risky. If it was, we couldn't have it, TASER Intl. would be shut down and out of business. Instead, more agencies are buying them in record numbers.

There have been 96 lawsuits of wrongful death brought against TASER Intl. They have won 95 of them and have appealed their 15 percent liability in the 96th.

Before you attribute that to the monied, skilled legal team they have assembled, consider this:

With the American system of jurisprudence, when you can win three million dollars for spilling hot coffee on your groin, if the TASER was killing people, no matter what TASER was putting up as legal defense, they'd be shut down, out of business and likely in jail. No one would beat those odds.

The police need this tool. And yet, youtube is filled with examples of police abuse of the TASER. They make us cringe too. We welcome oversight and are committed to transparency, and informing the public.

It might not be on GRO's timetable, but you the public are entitled to everything we can legally release.

The blogosphere does create an atmosphere of immediacy that we can't ever satisfy. We have to be thorough and methodical. That's our commitment to you.

In police/suspect confrontations, there's likely going to be someone who's unhappy with their treatment. We know that, but we have to also acknowledge the role and the choices of the citizen.

That's rarely considered to the level of the scrutiny that police officers face when they react to those choices.

But that's just the business we're in, and we know that.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 5:49 p.m.

>>> Chuck, you don't need to be so hard on polly wog. :) He raises interesting questions, and they will be answered soon. <<<

Sure the Tadpole does Tom I am not disputing that but was only pointing out the obvious in the fact that you and City Council even plainly have stated numerous times over that due to the law you cannot release things while an investigation is still ongoing. It would be too prejudicial towards not only CPD but also towards any fair ruling of a jury if it went that far.

Not my fault Tom if some of these Anti Taser people cannot remember what has been said in the very near past in this ongoing issue. I just like to remind them. :)

Thanks for chatting online in our community Tom it really goes alot farther than you realize.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 5:53 p.m.

Daniel Berry why do you remind me of one of those anti war pacifists from the late 60's preaching make love not war and also as one who protested the police no matter what they did because in your eyes it was wrong?

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 6:39 p.m.

Probably because all that you contribute on these forums are ad hominem attacks.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 12, 2009 | 6:42 p.m.

And by the way--

>>> When the officer tells you to do something you do it,do it now and you keep on doing it until you are released to go. That is the law. <<<

That is not the law, especially when you have not yet been taken into custody.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 12, 2009 | 7:20 p.m.

When all is said and done on this case, I hope I have a better understanding as to why there was no other alternative but to deploy the taser.
At this time, I question the officer's ability to quickly apply handcuffs, the ability of two officers on his back to apply cuffs and the ability of the additional six officers present at the scene to assist in securing this guy in cuffs.
I still wonder how this guy would have been apprehended if a taser was not available.
This is not to dispute legal use of the taser, just why it is used as opposed to other alternatives, in this case.
From the language I heard, there was belligerence present at the scene.
IMHO, belligerence should not be enough to warrant use of the taser.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 8:16 p.m.

Daniel Berry if an officer of the law tells you to stand there it is not only for their safety but for your's too.

How dense can you be?

>>> Probably because all that you contribute on these forums are ad hominem attacks. <<<

Wrong again Einstein I tell it like it really is out there on the streets because this aint no game of "CandyLand" and it really can turn into a game of "Life" of your's or somebody else's death if you are stupid enough not to cooperate with the men and women in uniform who sacrifice their lives daily who are trying to make a scene secure for all involved.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 13, 2009 | 2:53 a.m.

I'm all for cooperation when it comes to dealing with police, however this cooperation needs to go both ways, i.e. if you ask a valid question of an officer who just took your ID from you, he should be cooperative enough to answer you, and not yell at you to stand back like he's automatically assuming you just happen to have a weapon and are stupid enough to use it against him. It's pretty clear where the hostility and belligerence starts. If you assume a hostile stance when apprehending somebody, you can't expect them to smile and kiss your ass for it.

Police officers are citizens just like us. If you want respect from somebody then you have to start out by treating them with respect. This is very basic stuff, these are the manners you're supposed to learn in kindergarten. Just because you wear a badge doesn't give you an excuse to treat everybody else like crap.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 13, 2009 | 3:02 a.m.

I fully realize this isn't Candy Land, and situations can all too often escalate into violence. This is exactly the reason that police officers need to learn how to deal with people courteously. In a tense situation which has not yet become physical, the way to escalate it is to start yelling and to try to intimidate the other person, whereas the way to defuse it is to speak calmly and rationally.

Now if you please, enough of the attitude and insults, it's terribly redundant.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 4:32 a.m.

Daniel Berry the way you and Polly post is just down right disrespectful IMHO to any and all law enforcement and it is views and beliefs like your's that get law enforcement officers killed yearly due to citizens such as yourself continually put doubt in their minds of just how they should be doing their jobs.

Citizens like you really have no clue but you think you are so highly educated that you run the world. Too bad you are not brave enough as these men and women who voluntarily risk their very lives every day just stepping out of their homes to hit the streets to protect your sorry Liberal back sides.

If you cannot handle the truth of this issue then please keep on scrolling right over my posts. I will not notice the difference nor care either.

The reality is all law enforcement must do as it has to do on the scene at any time to not only ensure their own safety first but the safety of the entire community too.

Leave them alone to do their jobs as they know how to do them and if you do not want to get into trouble keep your nose clean and if stopped by a member of law enforcement do as they say.

It is just that simple.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 13, 2009 | 5:34 a.m.

It's not views like mine that get law enforcement officers killed. If they have any reason to believe that a person under suspicion has a weapon or if that person is making physical threats, then by all means, use whatever force you have to. Until that point, however, we are in fact innocent until proven guilty. It's views like yours that get innocent citizens beaten up by cops every day of the year.

Personally, I am smart enough to keep my nose clean and to do what law enforcement officers say, so as to avoid any gray areas that might give them an excuse to mistreat me. However I also know that many officers are actually looking for such excuses. I have been stopped by an officer, and I did do what they said, and I was yelled at for not kissing their ass enough while I was busy obeying them. And then I got accused of having an attitude and threatened when I was really just trying to do whatever they were asking. On another occasion an officer has straight up lied to me in an instance that ended up costing me $5500 and a court case (which I won). So don't tell me that they're all just trying to do their jobs and risk their lives for me. Some of them are actually out to get us, and they give all the rest of law enforcement a bad name.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 13, 2009 | 5:58 a.m.

On the flip side, before you accuse me again of being an avid cop-hater, I very much appreciate the above post by Tom Dresner, and it goes a long way towards improving relations between citizens and law enforcement. Statements like "We welcome oversight and are committed to transparency, and informing the public," are exactly the kind of thing that lend credibility to the police department. It tends to support what I've been saying, and provides a good basis for mutual cooperation between civilians and officers.

(Whereas statements like "Leave the law enforcement to the law enforcement," are just ignorant.)

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 6:33 a.m.

Wow, you guys were up early. Mr. Berry, if I may, did the $5500 incident happen here? And if so, did you formally complain? There is nothing worse an officer can do than lie in the performance of their duties. That's terminal.

You'd probably agree with me that our jobs in street encounters is dangerous. That it's a game of catch-up for a cop, because he happens upon people from the harmless to the deadly harmful, and has a lot to sort out in short order so he (or she) can go home in one piece. And that while well north of 90 percent represent no actual threat, that other 10 are capable of causing us to be six feet under. You know?

Would you also agree that for tactical reasons it's not unreasonable for officers to need to assume everyone is in that 10 percent (just picked a number) and exclude them from that as circumstances dictate?

And so, not knowing who is and is not dangerous, we learn things and ways of doing business that maximize our chances for survival. These include placing people in certain locations so that in case they're dangerous, and we don't know it yet, our chances if it go south are somewhere close to better than if we let them start with an advantage.

Where we tend to get jammed up is when we're not sufficiently polite and courteous in the minds of someone, and they're offended and perhaps become angry. Not saying that absolves us of responsibility to do so, but it is incumbent upon someone we encounter to submit to lawful authority, and that includes direction as to what to do at the time.

As an illustration, let's consider a confrontation where encounter a car suspected to contain participants in a shots fired incident, and we're wrong about that, but nobody knows it yet.

We are going to be issuing commands, not saying please, we're loud and authoritative and on edge because guns are involved.

You're not saying that until the carload is informed why they're being detained, it's not a legal detention, are you?

I'll stop here, because 3000 characters comes quickly.

(Report Comment)
Troy Kite August 13, 2009 | 7:17 a.m.

What troubles me is the willingness of some of you posting here to accept a police state authority even though no such order has been issued. We are not under martial law! Even if we were it would not be police officers, it would be soldiers on the streets keeping law and order.

Some of you obviously have mental issues to think that the policy of shoot first ask questions later is valid in a FREE society. IT IS NOT! No matter whether it be taser or 9mm.

If the situation had been different then opinions would be different. If the officer had been responding to a disturbance call in the alley then we can agree our views of the events would be very different. However, that was not the case! The officer happened to observe what he believed to be an act of public urination. His duty was to investigate not diffuse!

I am sure the officers actions will be justified .... what else would you expect when the police "police" themselves. They can not admit wrong doing in this case because they would place the city at risk of a lawsuit even though that will be likely anyway. The citizen review board will also more than likely be a complete joke and have no bearing on future incidents. I am all for the police doing their job and using tools that are needed. However, they must accept that their judgment will be sometimes questioned and that consequences may follow. It is the court of public opinion that seems to matter most in today's society and the police have pitted themselves against a very impressionable jury.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 8:01 a.m.

Daniel Berry I think Tom Dresner just stated everything quite well indeed and yes it is the responsibility of each and every citizen to conform when any law enforcement officer gives you a command if and when you are pulled or called over for questioning.

It does not matter what you think at that point because that law enforcement officer has a job they have sworn to do and uphold for the safety of the community they swore into to serve and to protect.

To deny those law enforcement officers that right is to say you have absolutely no respect for their badge,what it represents or the fact they are out there being a willing target 24/7 to protect your sorry a$$.

The respect for our law enforcement people has really deteriorated alot over the years and due to that lack of respect and support over all has gotten officers killed in the line of duty trying to protect others due to public opinions crying for less and less police intervention tactics to be used.

Pathetic at best due to the Liberals in this nation who just have no respect for anybody out there daily whether it be Soldiers or Law Enforcement sacrificing their lives every day to protect this nation and it's citizens.

Makes me sick at times to be an American.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 8:38 a.m.

Tom.... I'm not sure if this is somthing that could be done or not, but: If you could have some of these fine upstanding (all knowing, question the police at every turn) citizens like Troy, Daniel, Polly, etc. use your new firearms simulator trainer, this might allow them to see how standing there being totally unaware (and as courteous as can be)could result in death! The simulator could be an eye opener to some citizens. It might not, as some people are so clouded they could never see any side but their own, but it's just a thought.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 9:52 a.m.

Troy Kite said: "I am sure the officers actions will be justified .... what else would you expect when the police "police" themselves. They can not admit wrong doing in this case because they would place the city at risk of a lawsuit even though that will be likely anyway."

Troy, I have to disagree. If I am reading you correctly, then any time we use force, and there's a compelling complaint, possible lawsuit, then you're arguing that we can -never- admit wrongdoing. Is that what you're saying?

There are still many who think we completely botched the McDuffy incident on I-70. You might be among them.

My point is, we admit it when we're wrong, and we do take action when it's warranted, and with the law, policy and ethics as our barometers. Public opinion might be considerably different, in spite of that. In fact, for many, it usually is.

You'd be amazed at knowing there are several officers who don't work here anymore because of work we've done "policing ourselves." That would not be true if we are as you're alleging, and just sweeping and covering it all up.

Nevertheless, there is much common ground and we're committed to doing everything we can to improve in that area.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 9:54 a.m.

Jim Bob, excellent idea. It would be a huge eye opener. :)

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 13, 2009 | 11:12 a.m.

Here are some things that I don't understand, and some issues that I have.

How did Mr. Giles go from a seemingly "cooperative subject"; answering the Officer's question and handing the Officer his ID, to a "hostile subject" that needed restraining with a chemical weapon and then having to have a Taser deployed on him? Understand, I don't have any problem whatsoever with the Officer doing his job and patrolling the area for criminal activity, even such minor infractions as urinating in public. I don't have any problem at all with the use of the Pepper Spray. And I don't have any problem at all with the use of the Taser. But where did the "break in communication" occur that brought this situation to this point?

It just seems to me that interpersonal communication skills are a weak point for many Police Departments, and that is a statement that I have been making for a long time.

I do have an issue with a statement that Mr. Dresner made: "You'd be amazed at knowing there are several officers who don't work here anymore because of work we've done "policing ourselves."". I believe this statement to be completely true, however the problem I have is this. If a Police Officer does something that will actually get him or her fired, often times it will be something that he or she can be criminally charged for. Where in most cases they are just fired. But, if a "civilian" were to do the same thing, they'd be charged with and more than likely convicted of a crime. I may be asked to give example here, but that is kind of hard to do because the information on the Officers that were terminated and the reasons for their termination won't be posted here. However, I do have a former Officer in mind that I know was a "bad cop", because I had dealings with her, and I had her supervisor reprimand her (or at least he said he would, conversation recorded for proof). What about "Jamie Holt"; I believe I have her name right... How many problems did the CPD have with her before she was let go? What about her suicide attempt that Officers responded to, and talked her "away from her firearm", and she was STILL allowed to work at CPD?

Secondly, EVEN if a Police Officer's employment is terminated it does not mean they are through being a Police Officer. Often times they will be hired by smaller departments. Or if the Officer is having many problems at one Police Department he or she may transfer to another one, and sometimes make a "lateral transfer" keeping his or her same pay grade. So, the termination of a "bad" Police Officer's employment often time does NOT rid the society of a "bad" Police Officer, it just sends the problem to another community....

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 11:17 a.m.

Rick,
Sometimes when an Officer is fired they are arrested. Remember Steve Rios? "Lateral transfers" don't work between police departments. Each department has their own pay scales. You couldn't leave CPD and go to Ashland making the same amount of money.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 13, 2009 | 11:34 a.m.

Jim Bob, I'd say that since Rios committed MURDER, the worst known criminal offense that there is on the books, there was not much choice but to charge him. Don't you think that was a pretty "silly" example of an Officer being arrested for a crime in furtherance of having their employment terminated? If anything that example makes my point for me. Okay, let me be more specific; often times when an Officer is fired, it is for something that if a civilian had done would be deemed criminal, and the civilian would be charged and more than likely convicted for it, where as the Officer would simply have his or her employment terminated for criminal violations, SHORT OF MURDER. How's that? That better?

Lateral Transfer was put into quotes in my earlier post; and the reason for that is the point you make here. Technically what I am referring to is not a true lateral transfer, but in some cases the Officer is able to keep his or her pay grade equivalent in the new department hey are going to when they transfer, this is what I am referring to.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 12:53 p.m.

Rick Gurley said: I do have an issue with a statement that Mr. Dresner made: "You'd be amazed at knowing there are several officers who don't work here anymore because of work we've done "policing ourselves."". I believe this statement to be completely true, however the problem I have is this. If a Police Officer does something that will actually get him or her fired, often times it will be something that he or she can be criminally charged for. Where in most cases they are just fired. But, if a "civilian" were to do the same thing, they'd be charged with and more than likely convicted of a crime."

Yes, and no. Integrity issues are not per se crimes, unless perjury, would you not agree? But there's no greater threat to public confidence in us than a dishonest cop. I want to assure you too that if there's a criminal allegation, it's first investigated that way, and then referred to the prosecutor for possible charges and arrest. There would be no hesitation on our part. I also don't think they'd get any better deal, like you assert. But I can only speak for this county. If there was something chargeable, the prosecutor would review it, and likely recuse himself for familiarity with the officer, appoint a special prosecutor and move forward.

Also, I have to differ with you about your assessment about someone no longer working here going somewhere else quite easily.

On the contrary.

Not happening with the Missouri POST Commission. They get our files, and whenever there is a separation from service, they get the full scoop, and take separate action with peace officer licensing. No license from POST, no work as a police officer anywhere in Missouri.

Hope this helps.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.

Rick... What about Bobby Williams or Todd Smith to name a couple. I'm sure there are more, and fully understand that Tom can't discuss specifics.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 1:21 p.m.

From the Trib - 5/11/2006.

After using a tracking device to follow a 21-year-old woman, a former Columbia police officer will spend the next two years on unsupervised probation.

Todd Smith, 31, pleaded guilty to the Class B misdemeanor of disturbing the peace - a reduced charge stemming from the stalking case that led to his termination after six years with the Columbia Police Department.

Associate Circuit Judge Larry Bryson suspended imposition of a sentence, which means there will be no public record of the offense if Smith successfully completes probation.

If convicted of misdemeanor stalking, Smith could have been sentenced to as much as a year in the county jail. The maximum punishment for peace disturbance is six months in jail.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 1:24 p.m.

It doesn't just have to be murder. As Tom said, they refer the cases to the Prosecutor for his determination as to the filing of charges. Good Cops do not want bad cops working around them and will take the appropriate action to deal with them! A bad cop makes all cops look bad.

(Report Comment)
Jim Bob August 13, 2009 | 1:32 p.m.

Rick,
Here's a guy that's a Columbia Fireman that was arrested by CPD. He is still a Columbia Fireman.

05BA-CR04857 - ST V TRAVIS WAYNE GREGORY

This information is provided as a service and is not considered an official court record.

Charge/Judgment
Description: Possess Unloaded Firearm/Projectile Weapon While Intoxicated { Misdemeanor A RSMo: 571.030 }
Date: 10/22/2005 Code: 3116400 Disposition: Guilty Plea -04/25/2006
OCN: A8025384 Arresting Agency: COLUMBIA PD
Sentence (Suspended Execution of Sentence)
Sentence: Incarceration Jail (Suspended Execution of Sentence)
Sentence Date: 04/25/2006 Start Date: 04/25/2006 Length: 9 Months
Text: 9 MONTHS IN BCJ; SES; DEFT PLACED ON 2 YEARS UNSUPERVISED PROBATION ON CONDITIONS IN DOCKET ENTRY

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Facility Name: PROBATION Agency: Boone County Courthouse
Classification: UNSUPERVISED
Outcome: Suspended
Start Date: 04/25/2006 Assigned Length: 2 Years

The original charge was someting to do with waiving a gun at his wife during a domestic disturbance. He received no job related punishment.

Why don't you yell at the fire department for a change!

(Report Comment)
Daniel Berry August 13, 2009 | 2:49 p.m.

Tom --

Actually I was up late :) And no, the incident happened in a different county, and my lawyer told me that it's not illegal for a cop to lie to you. I didn't formally complain, I figured any question of whether he lied to me would require going to trial, which would have cost me a lot more money. As it happened, the charges were dropped before that point.

I understand that your jobs are dangerous (10% sounds high). Traffic stops are particularly so because you can't see everything going on in the car. Alan Giles was one man, on foot, suspected of pissing in the alley. While I understand the need to take all precautions necessary, if an officer took my ID and told me to stand in the middle of the alley and walked away, I would probably want to know where in the hell he was going with my ID and why I'm being asked to stand by myself in a dark alley. I would be much more comfortable if the officer asked me to accompany him, which would also allow him to keep me in sight the entire time, so that in case I were dangerous, at least I wouldn't be able to pull out a gun while his back was turned.

Generally, the indicator that tells me whether it's ok to assert my right to free speech or whether I need to do exactly what I'm being told, is whether an officer has his weapon drawn. If an encounter is strictly verbal so far, I take it that I can say what I want to say, ask questions of the officer, decline to consent to a search, be polite but refuse an officers requests, etc. However I have been involved in a situation where 3 officers approached me with assault rifles, in full battle gear. In such a situation my survival instinct takes over, the first words out of my mouth are "I'm unarmed" with my hands up, and I'm all for full cooperation with the officers. And as it happened we had a cordial conversation and the officer in charge shook my hand and they left, and on that occasion I was quite impressed with how polite a police officer can be. As another example, just the other night I saw a number of cops surrounding Lee Elementary School, all of them with their weapons out. I did not feel the need to approach any of them to ask what was going on.

It seems that the difference between a good cop and a bad cop is very subtle, and has more to do with their intention than anything else, as that tends to color all of their actions. A good cop is genuinely interested in defusing tense situations before they become violent and in putting a stop to violent situations as quickly as possible. A bad cop is looking for an excuse to bust somebody. While I do respect and appreciate the good ones, it is in my best interest to avoid the bad ones. Unfortunately, they all wear the same uniform, and it can be difficult to tell them apart.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 7:47 p.m.

Try to get some sleep tonight Daniel. :)

You're right, it's not illegal for a cop to lie to you. For example, let's say you and your friend are stealing from cars. We catch him with a stolen iPod. You're in the area, sweaty and out of breath and your fingerprints are retrieved but we won't know for weeks that they're yours. However, because a witness described you, you're detained.

We can lie to you, if we're short of probable cause at that time. We could tell you during interrogation that your friend implicated you in everything and said you'd been doing with him for weeks, when in fact he lawyered up.

If it gets you to confess, then it helps our case. And that's good for us. Wow, this could start a whole new debate.

But in recounting that interrogation in a police report used for subsequent prosecution, those lies have to be detailed. For what's headed toward court has to be truthful. In police reports and in sworn testimony, etc.

Now before that gets anyone ballistic, remember, by then you'd have been told you have the right to remain silent. What you do after that is up to you. Dan Viets would advise silence. You get my point.

I am not sure the context of how the cop lied to you, but under certain circumstances, it's ok, and most, it's not.
We're sometimes accused of planting drugs on suspects. That is the height of corruption, and we'd (Professional Standards and Administration) need to know that officially!

If that were ever proved true, I can assure you we'd be recommending prosecution for that officer and would be terminating them. No way that'd ever be ok.

More next post.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 13, 2009 | 8:08 p.m.

Jim Bob - "Why don't you yell at the fire department for a change!"

I am not "yelling" at anyone... LOL. I am asking questions and posting the issues that I have with various statements.

But the reason that the Fire Dept. does not come under as much scrutiny as the Police Dept. does may have something to do with the difference in their roles.

Anytime you give a group of people the power of arrest, there are going to be people in that group that can not handle having that kind of authority. That's just a simple and true statement. No reflection on anyone or any agency, that is just how it is. This is why the Police Dept. comes under a little more scrutiny from the public than the Fire Dept. does.

PERSONALLY speaking, just from my point of view, I think the age to become a Police Officer should be raised. I think that there are WAY too many immature 21 year olds running around for me to be comfortable with 21, 22, or even 25 year olds with badges, firearms, pepper spray, Tasers, handcuffs, and a power of arrest.

Perhaps the Missouri POST Commission DOES Police the industry in such away that it keeps "bad cops" out of Law Enforcement, but it does not keep "bad cops" out of Law Enforcement related fields, where they can do just as much damage. You don't have to be POST certified to be a Special Investigator for the Prosecutor's Office. Ohhh what is the name of that nice Italian sports car that Magnum P.I. drove? LOL.

Here is the point, somewhere along the line, something went wrong in Law Enforcement. I don't know what it was. And I am not saying that Law Enforcement is all "bad". But something happened, and it went from "protect and serve" and "help your fellow man" to "it is us against them", and I don't think there are many of the "protect and serve and help your fellow man cops" around anymore. I think there are a few, but I think the "it's us against them cops" are far more prevalent.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 13, 2009 | 8:53 p.m.

If a drawn pistol is your threshold, you probably ought to lower it. :)

There may not always be time for an adequate explanation. If so, cooperation is a great idea. It shouldn't take a SWAT team to make you compliant, but that's what you've stated is on your mind, and I appreciate that.

I think where we often get crossways is when there's a verbal dispute over who knows what about the law, and then there's an attempt to hold court over the merits of the case, right then and there. That's never productive, and it goes against all laws that govern law enforcement mechanics and citizen interactions.

You've made excellent points, and I appreciate your voicing your concern.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 9:36 p.m.

Tom Dresner thank you for willing to be the "Front Man Online" for the CPD in our community and keep up the great work. :)

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance August 13, 2009 | 10:32 p.m.

Chuck,

Please stop sucking up to Mr. Dresner. Also in this country our founding fathers taught us to question authority not blindly respect it. Tom, you are a public servant with quite a bit of power. You will be scrutinized. It does not mean I disrespect the police, but as the saying goes, "Power corrupts." That is why the citizen review board will be a good thing.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 13, 2009 | 11:13 p.m.

I don't know where the drawn pistols and SWAT Teams came from......?

It is pretty "unintelligent" to try to resist a lawful arrest. It is also pretty "unintelligent" to try to argue with the Police. All of this is something that I agree with. And it is also interesting that I don't get harassed by the Police. My immediate thoughts are that the Police must not be out trying to harass the citizenry; because if they were I am pretty sure that I'd be fair target...

The reason that many people get convicted of crimes is because they don't know when to "shut up" (actually guilty or not is not the point). Yes, Police can lie to you, the U.S. Supreme Court believes that if you are actually innocent of a crime then lying to you will not make you confess to a crime that you did not commit. If you are a suspect or a "person of interest" in a criminal investigation, you should only be repeating one word to the Police, and that word is ATTORNEY! That is what I tell my clients, plain and simple. And it seems to have worked well for them.

I don't believe that the Police here in Columbia are "bad". Nor do I believe that hey are going out of their way to harass the citizenry. But, I do believe that their communication skills are a little lacking. I also believe that the CPD has hired it's fair share of "bad cops", but I think that Mr. Dresner is correct when he says that they do try to make those "bad cops" stay at the CPD fairly short.

I do KNOW that there have been some "bad cops" among our community in the past 4 years. I have been on the opposite side of the court room from them as they have had clients of mine charged with various crimes, or at the very least caused them some unnecessary hardships. I did mention one's name and "hinted" at another here on this forum; I don't feel bad about that, they are what they are..

Now, I am thankful for Police Officers like Tom Dresner, and Ken Burton, and MANY other decent Law Enforcement Officers. It's just that one "bad cop", that will always make the citizenry question all of the other Police Officers.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley August 13, 2009 | 11:15 p.m.

I am working on a"project" for the public. I am putting together a database of articles about these various topics we are discussing. Go here: http:///rmri.no-ip.org/mydms and just click "Login as guest" at the bottom of the log in box. Now, just type in "Search Incident To Arrest" or "False Confession" in the upper right hand search box. I am uploading articles, audio clips, video, and pictures for the public to have a better source of information on issues like these.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 14, 2009 | 12:20 a.m.

Ricky, take a look toward the end of Daniel's comments from August 13, 2009 | 2:49 p.m about an experience he had.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 14, 2009 | 3:41 a.m.

Oh no here is Tim Dance once again talking things he has no clue about nor the context they are posted in.

How typical.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner August 14, 2009 | 6:43 a.m.

Rick, you replied before my second reply to Daniel. That was meant for him, not for you. :)

Mr. Dance, fair enough. But I don't think Chuck is sucking up. He can be pleasant without doing that, you know. There have been plenty of times he's taken us to task, and he's not afraid to do so when he feels it's necessary.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance August 14, 2009 | 11:26 a.m.

Ok, you're right. Chuck has taken you to task on some things. But I will not have my questioning of authority to be construed as disrespectful, just American.

(Report Comment)

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