De-escalate first, don’t swat

IMG_2352 copy_GL1TCH3DA few years ago I was at school when the student in charge of the lab I was entering explained to me that she a little occupied and could not help me right away. She had just had to call the police on an aggressive young magazine salesman. You know these pee-brains: hired by the vanful, selling magazines for their “college education,” and then they become threatening when you don’t buy a subscription. The police do need to go after these groups and arrest them, and local governments need to establish this to get them out of your town, stopping this practice. I assume they target mostly seniors and possibly immigrants.

So, eventually the local police came because the campus police were out on a call. The police officer stopped the guy who had been harrassing the young woman student and started jiving with him; eventually he got the guy to leave, talked to the van driver, got them all to leave.

Another friend of mine, however, was upset with the police officer for not arresting the young man and for chatting with him. She yelled in the officer’s face; really yelled at him. The officer took it, shrugged, and went on about his business, unlike the Atlantic City police officers who had their wittle bitty egos wounded by the 20-year-old young man who mouthed off to them.

When my friend explained to me what she had done, I had to tell her that she was in the wrong. What the police officer was doing was de-escalating a situation. He was purposefully not telling the young man that he would be arrested, he was purposefully not arresting him, he was purposefully not giving him orders, he was purposefully not threatening him; in fact, the police officer was not doing anything that would anger the young man while he was on campus around a lot of other students. My friend was very suprised to hear this, but realized it was probably true and apologized to the officer.

I realized that the police officer was de-escalating the situation, because I knew Oakland police officers who had described their training. When you have two people in a fracas, even when one is obviously in the wrong, and the other obviously in the right, you can sometimes make things go badly when you side with the one who is right; sometimes you need to just de-escalate the human tensions; and, to do this, you begin by befriending the one who is in the wrong, preferably out of hearing of the one who is in the right.

Police officers with SWAT trainging aren’t doing this. They are grabbing the hair of women protesters and pulling it. They are macing students sitting on the ground. They are a standing army at war with the citizenry of the United States, and they have been trained to this behavior by the Deparment of Homeland Security. It is not necessary for our protection as US citizens for the police to be up in arms against us. It is illegal for a standing army to fight us. Protesting is your patriotic duty as an American. If you don’t like it, don’t leave; you’re an American: protest.

One area in which the police are seriously deficient to the detriment of citizens, even worse, to the death of citizens, is in responding to crises concerning mentally ill citizens. The police have no training in how to de-escalate with the mentally ill, and they have no training in how to deal with the mentally ill. So, they do what they’ve been armed by the Department of Homeland Insecurity to do: they shoot to kill. It is time to stop this. Police officers are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our fellow citizens; they are not a standing army to fight their fellow citizens.


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