Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Can We Learn From This?

This article from the Manchester Union-Leader in New Hampshire provides some of the details of another bizarre incident from Law Enforcement Planet. When three people are killed on a normally quiet Thursday night in small-town America it's a bona fide tragedy. How does such a thing occur?

First of all, both parties to this fiasco were soldiers, maybe, in the "War on Drugs". For sure the police officers were, perhaps the others were in the other army. Can we possibly imagine that if the penalties for possession and distribution of drugs were less draconian that offenders would still shoot it out with the cops? A confrontation the alleged criminal is inevitably destined to lose? We seldom hear of gunfights over speeding tickets but there would probably be lots of them if a conviction for speeding meant 10-15 in the joint.

Speaking of armies in the war on drugs, soldiers that mess up an attack or a defense pay the price, sometimes with their life. These cops were supposed to be professionals. How on earth did they manage to screw up an investigation like this? They have to be expecting resistance of some sort, they're wearing armored vests, they're armed, they outnumber the person of interest. Yet they still create a tragic incident. They're personally and institutionally incompetent.

On the human interest side of the story, the sympathetic part, it's pointed out that the police chief was days from retiring. It's also pointed out that he was 48 years old. That should have been a headline story even if no shoot-out occurred. A public employee was eligible for retirement at age 48! That's truly mind-boggling. It would also be interesting to revisit the 4 surviving cops tens years or so into the future and see what kind of financial arrangements they will be enjoying.

Evidently 26 year old Brittany Tibbetts was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her death is truly the saddest part of a sad story. In many states an accessory to a crime, the driver of the getaway car in a liquor store robbery for instance, is just as guilty of murder if the clerk is killed as the actual shooter. In this particular incident, even though Miss Tibbetts may have been killed by the resident of the home, the police themselves set the disaster in motion and bear responsibility for her death. They were negligent in not determining if another person was in the building. Natually, they were careful to examine the premises hours later with a robot to make sure that no more policemen would be put in danger. The safety of Miss Tibbetts never entered the equation, then or earlier. No matter, she, too, is just as dead as police chief Maloney and for the same reasons. No flags will be flown at half-staff for her, however.

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