Cop Killer Wanted: Alive, if possible.
I receive calls and email from LEOs about a variety of topics. Some questions and discussions led to posts on www.bluelinelawyer.com. I also read other blogs, LEO-focused websites and the internet sources. This blog post discusses a topic that is sensitive, controversial and important for LEOs. It involves the extraordinary efforts of LEOs to arrest and prosecute cop killers.
Now I know my use of the term “cop killer” will no doubt have someone jumping up and down. However, in an age of dashcam videos, the prevalence of surveillance video and handheld video capability on cellphones, we are seeing a trend. Many shootings of LEOs are memorialized on video. The value of these videos is immeasurable including prosecution and training. For my purposes and based upon my beliefs and analysis, if a perpetrator is caught on video shooting a LEO, I will call him or her a cop killer. The camera does not lie.
With the increase of LEOs killed in violent attacks this year and last, many have asked why LEOs go to such extraordinary lengths to take cop killers into custody? In many instances, LEOs negotiate cop killers into surrendering when the perpetrator actually wants a violent confrontation. I thought this question deserved some contemplation especially for the civilian readers of this blog.
I did a little research and confirmed what I suspected: nearly every LEO oath of office includes a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. But what does that mean in practice? Well, it is more than avoiding unreasonable searches and seizures. This portion of the LEO’s oath of office means that we guarantee due process to every person accused of any crime. Due process includes the obligation to effect every arrest using the least amount of force necessary. It also means affording the accused the benefit of the protections of our constitution including counsel, a speedy and public trial and the right to confront witnesses against him, to name but a few.
So why are so many cop killers taken into custody? The short answer is because many brave men and women risk their lives and bring to bear every resource to do so. The longer answer is that these efforts and resources are focused upon a principle that our LEO oath is more than a piece of paper we sign. It is a commitment to carry out the obligation that we voluntarily accepted: to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Like the use of force in every context, LEOs react to the level of force facing them. With so many perpetrators, LEOs across our country do everything possible to use the least amount of force necessary to perform their duties.
Take one look at the Officer Down Memorial Page and you will see that violent attacks on LEOs are increasing at an alarming rate. Readers of this blog will know my theory as to why: STOP LETTING VIOLENT CRIMINALS OUT OF PRISON! However, for every LEO killed in the line of duty, there was a group of LEOs who were willing to do everything possible to put their duty first and effect an arrest of the suspect.
The next time you hear or read about someone complaining how LEOs violate people’s rights you can stand proud and respond that when pushed to the limit of human emotion, LEOs consistently uphold the constitution and arrest those who assault and kill LEOs. Put this scenario before our critics, “You learn that your best friend is dead simply because he did his job. You have access to a firearm and control over media access to the location of the person who killed him. You know that your friend’s children will never see their parent again. You also know that the criminal justice system will move slowly to prosecute and punish the perpetrator. Would you have the courage and integrity to put your life in danger to provide the killer his day in court?” All across the United States, LEOs do so in every instance. Honor is doing what you must not what you desire.
Because LEOs uphold their oaths, because they risk their lives to guarantee constitutional protection to strangers and because they exercise discretion and commitment to duty before self every day, I will keep working to protect their due process rights. To the warriors who pursue cop killers, I say “Thank you for making us all proud.” When you meet those fallen officers again in heaven, they will join God in praising you. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5.