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RationalBiker

Another Fellow Officer Killed

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Back in October, I posted about a fellow officer who was killed in the line of duty. All these months later, the suspect's trial has just began, and is less than a few days old. Last night we had another officer killed in the line of duty, but under some circumstances which make it in some ways more tragic. I cannot elaborate much at this point, but I can say that the slain officer was in plain clothes and the shooting officer was apparently unable to identify him as a police officer. Four levels of investigation are ongoing (internal, local criminal, state and FBI). I sort of knew the slain officer, but I know the shooting officer a good bit better and I would describe him as typically a fairly good officer.

This is particularly difficult to deal with because it will be hard to see any real "justice" come out of this in the end. There is no upside to this situation save for any training that may arise from the review of the incident and maybe a wake up call to the numerous very young and inexperienced officers we have.

Man, last night was a long night that just plain sucked.

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I realize that I am very new to this site, but I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for the officer's family's, the department's, society's, and your loss. It sounds like a terrible situation.

E

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Vern, man, I can't even imagine how awful that must be. This reminds me how grateful I am to have people like you putting their lives at risk to protect our rights here at home. Stay well.

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Thanks all for your kind words.

I thought I'd link a couple of the news stories so that folks could get some more of an idea of what happened. They are generally accurate with respect to the actual incident but the article is lacking in a lot of specifics (to be expected this early in the investigation). Witness accounts vary significantly, and some of the statements made in these articles are not consistent with the information I have. Time and investigation will tell hopefully.

http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story...n=41988&tref=po

http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story...4869&ran=193428

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I am terribly sorry RC, it is always a shame to hear of police officers dying in such tragic accidents. You guys are essential to the maintanence of the order and peace that we have enjoyed for so long. It is a shamed that your profession isn't held in a higher esteem in some quarters. I hope that all parties remain rational and that the best that can will come of this situation.

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I am terribly sorry RC, it is always a shame to hear of police officers dying in such tragic accidents.

Thank you. For the first 13 years I was on the department, we did not have an officer killed in the line of duty. Since 1998, we have had five officers slain (and two commit suicide). This is the first officer in our department's history to die "blue on blue".

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For those interested, here is a link to the Commonwealth's Attorney Report detailing the facts of this case and the conclusion of their joint investigation with the State Police. (Note the video segment linked at the top of that page as well.) In short, the shooting officer will not face any criminal charges.

http://www.wtkr.com/global/story.asp?s=5211548

Here is a story on the slain officer's family's reaction;

http://www.wtkr.com/Global/story.asp?S=5212432

As an aside, we have had two more officer involved shootings in the last four days and I worked both of them. The officers in both of those are physically okay at this point. I may start a new thread about these when I can provide some information. It is almost unbelievably ironic that one of the shootings was incredibly similar to the hypothetical man in the street waving a gun that was discussed in another thread.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Ouch. I'm sure you've heard this enough to be sick of it, but I want to say I'm sorry for what happened and I appreciate what you guys do.

After reading the attorney's report, though, I do have some questions. Keep in mind that I know almost nothing about policework:

1) Why weren't Darden and Canfield wearing vests? Didn't they come to the scene straight from a job in which they were instructed to wear "ballistics" at all times? Ballistics means a bulletproof vest, right? Between that and Darden's apparently failing to make the radio call he was supposed to, it sounds like they were ignoring proper procedure.

2) Was Darden personally familiar with Barry's dog? It sounds like the dog recognized Darden as a cop. Kind of a shame, actually, since if the dog had brought Darden down as intended he would probably still be alive.

3) From what you've said, it sounds like things are getting worse where you are. Have non-fatal police injuries been increasing as well?

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, but I want to say I'm sorry for what happened and I appreciate what you guys do.

Thanks alot, I appreciate your kind words.

1) Why weren't Darden and Canfield wearing vests?
Well, the simple answer is, they choose not to even though they were directed to do so. Why they choose not to I couldnt' tell you. Up until this week, we did not have a policy that required field officers to wear ballistic vests. Effective this week, it is not longer optional. I started wearing mine 'religiously' five years ago after I was involved in a big shooting incident. Yes, a ballistic vest is a bulletproof vest, but bulletproof is misleading. The vest issued to our uniformed officers will probably stop most handgun rounds, but are next to useless for most rifle rounds.

2) Was Darden personally familiar with Barry's dog?

I don't know for sure, but I would say probably not. It's difficult to say why the dog went for someone else instead of Darden. There were LOTS of people in the courtyard, and that's typically not a situation in which a dog is set loose so it's very likely the dog just didn't know who to 'target'. Now in this particular case, even though dogs aren't typically set loose in a crowd, I think that was a reasonable tactic that just went wrong.

That said, most police dogs still don't even like police officers other than their handlers though they do have some training to recognize uniforms. But even a uniformed officer near a K9 can get bit if he does something to alert or agitate the dog. When they are cut loose for building searches, probably their most common use, if one runs up to me I stand still and face him. You have to be careful not to stare the dog down, but you keep your eyes on him, don't turn your back on him and don't move anything (especially your hands) quickly.

Have non-fatal police injuries been increasing as well?

I haven't noticed any particular increase in non-fatal injuries to officers in my city. But the number of lethal force encounters just seems phenomenally high lately. I was just thinking today that my work is finally taking it's toll on me. I've been on almost 21 years, but it's only the last 5 or so that have really started to wear on me. I've worked night shift that long, and aside from the physiological effects of working a permanent night shift, I have seen more 'action' during those 5 years than almost all of the rest of the other 16.

I'm in a group of a relatively small number of officers who has spent their entire length of an almost full career now on the street in patrol (the front lines as it were). Most officers move around to various other assignments throughout the department, which is good for developing a more well-rounded knowledge of policing, and it probably helps reduce burnout. But patrol work / supervision is my thing, it's 'in my bones' so to speak. My motivation has been up and down at times, and is generally on the higher side even now, but there has never been a job on the department that I have wanted to do more than patrol.

At one point I thought I was going to have to move somewhere else just to pad my chances for Sergeant. As it happened, I got promoted anyway. I'm on a real short list of people who made it to Sergeant on my department without the varied experience in other assignments. The downside of this is that it is now very difficult for me to go anywhere else if I did want a change, which I still don't see happening. Likewise, it would be unprecedented for me to expect to make Lieutenant. Fortunately, I have what I consider to be the best job on the police department for me. A promotion at this point would really screw that up for me. I do not care for the job the Lts. do, even with the reasonably nice pay raise they get.

I could retire in 4 years, but it's more likely that I will stay about 9 more unless some other job opportunity presents itself. I'm still not ready to go, and when I do, a large part of my identity will be gone, something I'm sort of trying to ween myself from now, if that's even possible. I've known several people who retired from the police department after 25 to 30 years and died 1-3 years after they left. I don't want to be that guy.

I want to ride my Harley with my wife across the country.

I'm going to pick up sand from the Atlantic coast and take it to the Pacific coast and vice versa.

I want to see the Grand Canyon.

I want to go to Sturgis Bike Week.

I want to go to Las Vegas.

I have 100's more Harley shirts to collect.

I want to see the movie Atlas Shrugged. :thumbsup:

The "I wants" go on for quite a bit.

To paraphrase Bobby Gaylor in song called "Suicide", I was born and I want to finish what was started. You have to have listened to the song to get the full context of the meaning of that phrase, because it's actually about choosing life, not death.

Man, did I segue or what? :P

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The vest issued to our uniformed officers will probably stop most handgun rounds, but are next to useless for most rifle rounds.

But it would stop rounds from another officer's handgun, right? I'm guessing that's the reason for the new policy. I'm also guessing that you aren't the only officer who will be "religious" about wearing ballistics now, mandentory policy or not.

That said, most police dogs still don't even like police officers other than their handlers though they do have some training to recognize uniforms. But even a uniformed officer near a K9 can get bit if he does something to alert or agitate the dog.
That squares with an experience I had years ago. I was walking by a police car parked outside the Wal-Mart I worked at, and my first clue that a police dog was inside it was when it charged up to the edge of the back-seat cage and started menacing me. Quite an alarm, until I realized that the dog couldn't get out. I do remember being quite disturbed at the time by the idea that a police-trained dog would just randomly attack someone, but now I assume that you just never let them out of the cages unless you're expecting trouble to begin with.

When they are cut loose for building searches, probably their most common use, if one runs up to me I stand still and face him. You have to be careful not to stare the dog down, but you keep your eyes on him, don't turn your back on him and don't move anything (especially your hands) quickly.

So, acknowledge him without challenging or alarming him. Almost like recognizing a dominant pack-mate, I guess. Does this work if you're not in uniform, or would I be screwed either way then?

I haven't noticed any particular increase in non-fatal injuries to officers in my city. But the number of lethal force encounters just seems phenomenally high lately. I was just thinking today that my work is finally taking it's toll on me.
Maybe a vacation and some time on the day shift would help?

Fortunately, I have what I consider to be the best job on the police department for me. A promotion at this point would really screw that up for me. I do not care for the job the Lts. do, even with the reasonably nice pay raise they get.

Even if it did happen, couldn't you just turn down the promotion? Or not apply for it in the first place? How does that work?

I want to see the movie Atlas Shrugged. :thumbsup:
I hope it isn't mangled, but it probably will be. Too bad AR didn't live long enough to finish the script herself.

Man, did I segue or what? :P

No problem. Sounds like you've just got a lot to think about lately.

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But it would stop rounds from another officer's handgun, right? I'm guessing that's the reason for the new policy.

Yes, most likely. There is speculation that if Darden had been wearing a vest that it probably would have saved him. He was hit in areas that the vest was likely to cover. I don't generally engage in the "it would have been different if...." as I find it to be of dubious value. The fact was he wasn't and he did die, the vest just has the potential for increasing your survival chances. The previous three officers who were killed in the line of duty on our department were wearing their vests, and were hit in places where the vest did not offer protection.

So, acknowledge him without challenging or alarming him. Almost like recognizing a dominant pack-mate, I guess. Does this work if you're not in uniform, or would I be screwed either way then?
I would say it probably would help, but if the handler is giving the dog commands the dog may attack anyway. Of course if the plain clothed person appears to be compliant, the handler should not be commanding the dog to attack. Of course there is the possibility for an errant dog bite anyway. They are well trained, but they still act on their own rarely.

Maybe a vacation and some time on the day shift would help?

I do have a vacation coming up, and I have considered a change of shifts. Because the day/evening shift people rotate every two weeks, night shift is the only shift that provides me with consistent work hours. That is one consideration as to why I'm on nights. It also fit the family situation better while my son was growing up, but now that he's 18 it's much less of an issue.

Even if it did happen, couldn't you just turn down the promotion? Or not apply for it in the first place? How does that work?
I'm electing not to test this time.

No problem. Sounds like you've just got a lot to think about lately.

When I hit the 'twisties' my mind will clear and there will be 'miles of smiles'. :thumbsup:

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Is there any particular city-wide crime-prevention policy in Virginia Beach that could be responsible for the recent numbers of officer slayings? I'm curious if there's some kind of meta-cause for all this.

Oh, and now I want to recommend some books to you, if you read at all in your spare time: Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, and Thud! by Terry Pratchett. Yes, they are all humorous fantasy. They're still good books.

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Is there any particular city-wide crime-prevention policy in Virginia Beach that could be responsible for the recent numbers of officer slayings? I'm curious if there's some kind of meta-cause for all this.

Actually, I live in Virginia Beach but I work in the neighboring city of Norfolk. That said, the Beach has had a couple officers killed in the last several years as well. There's no real crime prevention programs or policies that I can see being the culprit. My first thought is that experience levels may have something to do with it. Each of the shootings and shooting suspects are so different that it's dificult for me to derive any common connection between them but there is something of a common thread between the officer's levels of experience. The only general connection in most all of our 'clients' is high levels of emotionalism and irrationality; folks who just can't seem to think more than two minutes into the future.

Thanks for the book recommendations, I'll look into them. Looks like those are all Discworld novels, a series I have heard of before, but haven't read.

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I find that the Discworld books contain some very benevolent human-centric philosophy, although people that only read the first 2-3 generally discount them, as those first few books are not very good.

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