Suburban Excitement

Last Thursday night, close to midnight we had more adventure than we would want in our neighborhood.  Basically about 6 police officers, wearing Kevlar and holding rifles descended on our neighbors.  I am not sure exactly everything that was happening but basically what happened was that the neighbor (whose wife and 2 children were thankfully not at home) was quite drunk and for some unknown reason took his rifle and just laid it down on the sidewalk in front of the house.  Two doors over a mother saw the gun lying there and rightly called the police.  It’s not clear whether she told the guy that she called the police or not, but when the police arrived the gun was no longer on the sidewalk.  One police officer began yelling very loudly telling the guy to come out of the house with his hands up, when the guy came out, he apparently wasn’t listening right away.  Again in as loud and deep a voice as man can shout he was told that he did not do what he was asked right away, he would be shot.  It appears that guy had moved the gun so that it was hiding behind the banister on his front porch.  So I am not sure if he picked up the gun at some point, but there was a lot of yelling, there were officers at different points on the street pointing their guns.  I saw the guy walk down his steps to the sidewalk with his hands up and then 3 officer tackled him immediately (and roughly) and while on top of him yelled at him to get his hands out from underneath his body.  I get the reason why, but could be a little difficult when 3 guys just tackled you.

There is a lot about this situation that seemed just wrong to me.  I feel that it was the right thing to do to call the police, and it gives me no sense of peace to know that I have a neighbor, who when extremely drunk will place his firearm in odd places around his house.  He has a 9 year old boy and 2 year old girl.  It seems to me that this gun should be locked away, at all times.  And if drinking makes you unlock it, you probably shouldn’t be drinking.  However, what struck me is how the situation seemed to escalate as a result of the police action.

The neighbor wasn’t threatening anybody with the gun, so the police had no reason to believe that the guy was wanting to use the gun to enact violence on anybody.  And then there was the yelling.  To my knowledge I don’t have any anxiety issues.  I was sober, but when that cop was shouting, I felt very tense.  I felt my heart rate increase.  I was so sure that somebody was going to get shot, because it seemed very imminent.  I’ll admit that I don’t know how police are trained, and maybe this shouting is effective, but it’s hard to believe that it’s the case.  Even though I wasn’t being yelled at I found myself getting upset…wishing he would calm down…I felt adversarial, I felt threatened.  And when you feel threatened, when your scared, when your panic and someone is screaming at you, it just seems so easy to make a mistake, or make a move that might be defensive but is not calmly putting your hands up, exposing yourself even more clearly to a person (let alone 6 people) with a gun aimed at you.  Maybe I’ve been impacted by the media about police shootings, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t seem like what the cops were doing wasn’t the best way to diffuse the situation.    If you’ve ever just had someone scream angrily at you before, you will know that calmly surrendering isn’t most obvious choice on your mind at that point.  Add in some drugs, alcohol, anxiety issues, mental illness, etc, and it just seems like you have a dangerous situation that maybe didn’t have to become dangerous.

I am not trying to minimize the stress and danger of a cops job, and I am certainly not trying to defend a drunken neighbor with a shotgun either.  I didn’t see what the neighbor was doing, I only saw and heard the cops on the street from my line of sight, so maybe the neighbor was being very threatening.  It’s just that the whole situation just didn’t seem right from start to finish.  From why a neighbor would need to bring his hunting rifle out when he wasn’t hunting, to the swarm of cops with rifles and the amount of shouting.  I am thankful that no shots were fired, but it just seems clear to me how even when there are a bunch of good guys with guns and a whole lot of tension, somebody can easily be hurt.

24 thoughts on “Suburban Excitement

    1. Perhaps, certainly the evidence does indicate that how view race increases the anxiety in certain situations. But this was certainly not a factor here and I don’t think this guy was treated any more calmly or nicely because he was white. Beyond race I think we certainly have to re-evaluate how we deal with these situations. Perhaps in a nation with so many guns, this is not easily possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Yep. It’s appalling apparent that so many police officers are not being trained in de-escalating a potentially dangerous situation, but are actually escalating it. Quote from Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine

    “Trainers nationwide say one of the major problems with de-escalation training is the same problem with all law enforcement training: There’s no money for it. …

    Officers need to know how their brains and bodies react under stress. “If you are not in control of yourself, you cannot seek to control others,” Martinelli says. “The subject is agitated, chaotic, and resisting. The officer cannot become emotionally captured and react emotionally to the resistance. That just makes things worse.”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You know, as you were sharing this with me the other night at the time it was happening, I was experiencing some of the symptoms you described in this post, yet you didn’t share any details with me about how you had physically reacted to this. So, I can imagine how someone being faced with multiple guns aimed at him, along with yelling, might react. It seems to me that everyone on the scene was in a fight or flight mode.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yep, mistakes do happen. So, they threatened to shoot an unarmed man, yet a few days earlier across the pond, London police brought down a man with a knife who’d just stabbed 7 (?) people, killing one, with a taser.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Part of the problem is that police are terrified. They have no idea that he is unarmed until they’ve “brought the subject down” and had a chance to search. Sure, the rifle wasn’t in his hands, but there was no way for them to know if he had a handgun or handguns. Drunk people and weapons are never a good mix.

      Having said all that, and having had conversations with some good “old-school” law enforcement officials, it is clear that even they are concerned at the level of force being used in these cases and even they are concerned that the current crop of police officers aren’t being properly trained in de-escalation. They jump right in, as Swarn relays in this post, emotionally and in fear so instead of de-escalating the situation they are escalating it far beyond where it needs to be.

      My brother-in-law is retired from law enforcement. My younger brother just left to move across the country to California. BIL’s advice to him was a) out of state plates attract law enforcement to stop you and b)when they stop you put your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make any sudden moves, and ask permission to do even the things they tell you to do(i.e. take your wallet out of your pocket for your id.).

      It really is frightening when you have people who are undertrained and underpaid doing a job that wields so much power and at the same time so much anxiety. Because of our pro-gun attitude they are afraid at every call since they have no idea what they’re walking into.

      But more guns’ll fix it. smh…

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Well said Ruth. I wasn’t trying to take any sides here… It just seemed like all over insanity and I remember thinking to myself… So is the only solution to this problem according to the right is to have my own gun? *sigh*

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Apparently. Unless you want to use it to defend yourself against the police. But we don’t want a police state, they say. We want to be armed in case we need a revolution against our government(i.e. the police), they say. How can we defend ourselves against tyranny, they say. Until you try to defend yourself against tyranny with using a gun. Then it’s your own fault you were gunned down, they say.

          And apparently it is not acceptable to do anything other than wholeheartedly endorse and condone police violence. They’re good people doing a hard job, they say. We have to support our police, they say.

          And I do. 100%. But as has been proven time and again, absolute power absolutely corrupts. I am not ignorant enough to believe that there are no corrupt police officers, nor am I ignorant enough to believe that they all are corrupt.

          I 100% fully support the proper training and pay for such a dangerous and challenging career. I fully support audits on police departments to weed out the bad from the good. I fully support those men and women in uniform who are out there every day doing a good job. I can “back the blue” while at the same time acknowledging that there are issues that need to be addressed and “back the citizens” at the same time.

          Far too often, because of the small pay and they level of danger, what we end up with as law enforcement are undereducated, borderline thugs themselves, who have egos the size of Mount Everest. They feed on the adrenaline of catching the bad guy so much so that everyone who isn’t wearing a uniform is a potential bad guy. It’s an entire mind-set. And it’s scary as hell!

          Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, don’t me wrong, I understand that they’re terrified. They’re terrified because everyoine in your country is armed to the teeth. i’d be scared shitless, too.

        I stayed with a family in Colorado Springs not long after the Make My Day law was passed there. The husband and wife owned dozens of guns and both slept with loaded pistols under their pillows. They were proud of it. Frightened the absolute crap out of me and my mate coming home, late, trying to feel our way through an unfamiliar house in the dark, knowing there were two people who might just forget they had guests who’d went out that night and were trying to find their rooms.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The aggressive, confrontational stance of the police is entirely at odds with widely-accepted good practice for hostage situations, in which the approach is always to calm things down and communicate with the suspect – i.e. lower the temperature. I don’t see why the situation you describe should be treated any differently. What would that involve here? As he’s walking down the steps with his hands raised, he’s calmly but firmly told to spread-eagle himself on the ground, and advised that he needs to be frisked for weapons, but that he must remain still. He’s reassured that he’s not committed any offence, and that all will be well if he does as he’s told. Something like that. No wonder you felt ‘tense’, ‘upset’ and ‘threatened’, Swarn; you have a nervous system reacting as it’s bound to do when receiving such signals.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Welcome to the police state. This overreacting is highly disturbing. ‘Things’ are escalating, and I’m glad to be removed from most of it – though we did have a Micronesian man hole up inside his house with a gun (after shooting his girlfriend in the leg) and wounded a local police officer. This happened not 1/2 mile from us down the main road, and it went on for several hours. This happened not too long ago. Global warming is driving Micronesians to places like Hawaii, as their islands are disappearing. The problems of those particular people are escalating, as a result.

    On the other hand, I was raised by a well educated, well respected and liked violent alcoholic. My dad kept a few guns, one in his bedroom closet. And when things intensified with his drinking and temper, he would threaten us with it. He also broke a few bones and more than a few spirits in his time. So I don’t know what ‘the answer’ is. War damages people. It severely damaged my dad, an otherwise brilliant, sensitive, cultured human being. No cops were called. Now, thankfully, things are different for the victims of domestic violence. The pendulum has swung, but as is often the case, it has swung wildly. Panic is pernicious in any case, as has been discussed.

    Individuals also echo and exhibit greater societal problems. On a global scale, climate change is escalating wars in many locations, think Syria:
    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are facing problems never before confronted, and fear is not something we collectively talk about and reason out. Instead, it’s like a deep vein thrombosis that will erupt at some point, we just cannot predict where and how. I expect things will get worse before they ever, if in my own lifetime, improve. I wish I was wrong.

    Aloha, Swart.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Bela. And thank you for sharing some of what you’ve been through in life. My father is also an alcoholic although he would usually just binge drink and just drink until he passed out, so not much time for anything dangerous in between. I think your remarks about the impact of war and ptsd could be extended to my dad as well. Although not a solider he did experience a very traumatic event for which he was never treated. It’s part and parcel of the negative stigma towards mental illness especially in men who are supposed to “just be tough and get over it”. The consequences of such attitude are painted throughout our society past and present.

      And yes as an atmospheric scientist I am also aware of the problems that are being caused by climate change already. Migrations like this are going to only get worse over time as well as economic strife from droughts and changing weather patterns. I agree that things do appear like they need to get worse before they get better and this seems like something that will only happen over the slower march of time and not in just a few generations.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh, gosh, I didn’t mean to insult you – of Course you are well familiar with the existing and impending human fallout resulting from climate change(!) In responding to a few posts today, this teeny tiny fact slipped my mind ~ Mea culpa!

        Onward – yes, I think there’s untold numbers of PTSD victims out there that are the result of war. Their bodies return, but they never quite do. My dad was not a soldier either, but he was below decks on a ship hit by a kamakaze and many on deck were wiped out. I think his guilt was never resolved. That and more. And I am happy that much of the ‘man up’ attitude that existed for my dad and brothers has slackened a bit. Although that Warrior archetype is still pretty active in the Collective Unconscious … Sigh.

        Thanks, Swart, for the exchange. I’m happy to have found yet another earnest soul out in the virtual world. Aloha, blessings, be well. Bela

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Didn’t feel insulted at all, just wasn’t sure if you remembered my profession, and was more just echoing what you said. I am much more concerned by the fact that this is the second post in a row that you called me Swart. LOL Have a good night Bela!! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Omg, I’m failing now – will be brain dead soon, it’s clear … %) So sorry, SwarN! I actually know a woman with the last name of SwarT right here in our little community. She runs a cool vegan restaurant. Sigh. Well, tomorrow’s another day! Enjoy the rest of your week! AlOhA until next time when I zip straight through the Twilight Zone and get your name right 😉

            Liked by 1 person

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