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    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Would You be Shot and Killed as a Terrorist?


    "The International Association of Chiefs of Police [whoever they are] . . . produced a training guide for dealing with suicide bombers for its 20,000 members . . . [T]he guidelines recommend that if an officer needs to use lethal force to stop someone who fits a certain behavioral profile, the officer should ''aim for the head'' to kill the person instantly and prevent the setting off of a bomb . . . [according the Association's behavioral profile] a suicide bombing suspect might exhibit ''multiple anomalies,'' including wearing a heavy coat or jacket in warm weather or carrying a briefcase, duffle bag or backpack with protrusions or visible wires . . . suspects may display such characteristics as nervousness, an unwillingness to make eye contact, excessive sweating, or mumbling prayers or ''pacing back and forth in front of a venue . . . guidelines say an officer does not have to wait until a suspected bomber makes a move in order to use deadly force, but just needs to have a ''reasonable basis'' to believe that the suspect can detonate a bomb."

    Well, that's just great. Tell me, what counts as a "heavy coat or jacket" and what counts as "warm weather"? "Warm" for people from Florida starts at a much higher temperature than it does from people from Northern states. A person from Florida vacationing in New York might wear a coat in 60-degree weather. Do Floridian vacationers now have to worry about being shot in the head without warning? I wear what looks like a heavy jacket whenever it rains in summer. Do I have to worry about being shot in the head now? If so, I want the overzealous enforcer who shoots me to be sent to the electric chair. Often I carry my briefcase with me while wearing a heavy -- looking (it's actually quite comfortable) jacket when it rains in summer.

    I am a writer, copyeditor, and proofreader. Carrying around a briefcase is not unusual behavior for me. If I leave somewhere in a hurry and don't get my power cord all the way back into my briefcase, I have to worry about being shot now?

    I don't like making eye contact with people; I consider it to be a bit rude, and uncomfortable for me. And living in a very warm part of the country, I sweat profusely whenever I am not in an air-conditioned building (this is whether or not I am wearing a coat). Before, sweating a lot was just annoying. Now I have to worry about getting shot?

    And what counts as "pacing back and forth in front of a venue"? I like to pace around when I'm on the phone. If I receive a call in front of a movie theatre, I now have to worry about being shot for unconsciously pacing while I am talking on the phone? This is unacceptable.

    Do you remember the British police shooting that fleeing suspect a few weeks ago. It is tragic that they shot him, but he was fleeing from police. What these guidelines do is a little different. You see, you don't have to run from police, or otherwise refuse to cooperate with them. The police don't even have to let you know that they are watching you. If they think that you fit the profile, they get to shoot you. Isn't that comforting?

    I have a question though . . . this news article doesn't say anything about this "International Association of Chiefs of Police". Who are they? I have no idea who they are, and I have no idea how their guidelines could apply to individual jurisdictions without the local governments approving it. But the very fact that these guidelines are being seriously contemplated is disturbing. In dangerous times, it is perhaps justified to allow police to use excessive force when a suspected terrorist resists police. But allowing police to shoot people without warning most certainly crosses a line. If these guidelines take effect in US police departments, every US citizen will have an action in tort against every police officer that stares at them. This is because in tort, assault is simply putting someone in reasonable fear of bodily harm. With such loose guidelines and the ability to shoot people just on suspicion, every police officer will be committing assault just by doing their job. Is this the kind of environment we want to create? The police are supposed to protect us form terrorists. They are not supposed to be the terrorists. In my opinion, these guidelines would be just as bad for police as it would be for us since their public image as being trustworthy will be effectively compromised. How can the police be effective when the public doesn't trust them?


    Blogger individ said...

    I am intimately familiar with one large, East Coast city police Department, and they are ignoring this opinion. I consider the IACP to be a bunch of baffoons.

    8/10/2005 10:52 PM  

    Blogger The Sovereign Editor said...

    That's good to hear. Thanks for the info.

    8/11/2005 1:28 AM  

    Blogger David Schantz said...

    This is going to put a lot of homeless people and people with mental health problems at risk. I've seen quite a few of them wearing winter coats in the summer and pacing.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic

    8/11/2005 7:17 PM  

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