The Most Proportional Police In America
Ferguson, Missouri continues as a slowly boiling cauldron after the shooting of Michael Brown there on August 9th.
Like it or not, it is a contemporary touchstone for the notion that police departments across the U.S. constantly employ excessive force.
If perception is reality, there’s a problem and not just in Missouri.
Last Friday, Omar Jose Gonzalez climbed over the fence at the White House and sprinted the short distance to the north portico where he opened the door and was stopped by a member of the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service.
Job done, except the press Â and jittery “have it both ways” officials have decided that it was an unpardonable breach of security.
You would think that he had made it to Bam’s sock drawer where he rummaged at will.
A Careful and Measured Approach
Secret Service officers, uniformed and otherwise, on post at the White Post or elsewhere on detail around the city, are unfailingly professional, appropriate and proportional.
Julia Pierson, Secret Service Director, says that officers are confronted about sixty times each year around the White House by persons who may be a threat.
In the Gonzalez incident they assessed him as low threat as he ran across the lawn based on his dress, lack of backpack and the fact that his hands were free.
He was both targeted by marksmen and could have been taken down by trained dogs, probably with injuries.
Once again they employed an “easy touch” and they were right.
Gonzalez had a climate message for the President.
Sure, it would be nice to stop him on the lawn but not at the expense of his life.
Once again, their protocols of eschewing force except in the most extreme circumstances worked.
Readers who do not deal in making split second decisions may disagree on this point, but as the legendary explorer Captain James Cook once said when narrowly avoiding an ice berg that would have destroyed his vessel, “A miss is as good as a mile.”
The system worked, again.
If you believe that law enforcement is often guilty of excessive force you should be celebrating (and supporting) the way the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service operates at the most prominent and important venue in America.
There are alternatives to deadly force and the Secret Service proves they can be employed with great effect if you are willing to do risk assessment training and implement the proper strategies.
A Word About Omar Gonzalez
He had a message for us, too.
Omar Gonzalez served his country and is suffering from extreme mental illness.
He was careening about, living in his vehicle accumulating weapons and ammunition.
We need to do a better job caring for ailing veterans and keeping weapons away from people who are unstable and likely to threaten the innocent.