A letter from a reader, who is a policeman:
I sometimes feel that people view the work we do in theoretical terms, divorced from the reality of what some parts of the world are really like. This is natural, of course. Most Americans live in areas that are relatively safe. No one gets shot and drugs are just a problem for wayward teenagers. But this was my day today:
We went to serve a drug and gun warrant. The house had surveillance cameras and reinforced doors. Which means they had plenty of warning that we were coming. As the TAC team makes entry, a suspect peeks out the window, sees the cover team standing outside, and fires a round at us. Lucky for us, he’s a bad shot. The TAC team soon takes all four occupants into custody without further incident.
Two guns and cocaine were recovered from the house. The house was notable only for the abundance of human feces on the floor and the dead mice everywhere. The suspect wouldn’t admit to shooting at us, but experience tells me that he shot at us simply because he was upset that he was about to get arrested. (Impulse control is a real problem among the criminal element.) The neighbors lived in fear because of this house, but didn’t call the police. Similar scenes play across the country countless times a day.
Yet I keep hearing that the police are the problem, that our paramilitary dress agitates sensitivities. If we simply wore friendlier uniforms and had a lighter touch, problems would disappear. Drug dealers and shooters would magically turn into teachers and accountants. This is absurd. Yet this is the argument that many seem to be making, even so-called conservatives. The same people who mock the Left for demanding an assault-weapons ban based solely on the aesthetics of a firearm are now demanding that we conform policing to aesthetics. If only we turned in our M-4s for wooden nightsticks, America would revert to some Tocquevillean ideal, and we could all live in a Norman Rockwell painting.
I’m afraid our problems go much deeper, and, as usual, government (through reforming the police) isn’t going to solve them. Until we deal with why someone would so casually shoot at the police, I’ll take my military-style tactics and equipment and I’ll go home at the end of the day, whether my appearance has offended political sensitivities or not.
I don’t want the police disarmed. I don’t want a fair fight between police and criminals. I want an unfair fight. I want the police overwhelmingly armed, unchallengeably armed, if possible. And I want them to be able to go home at the end of the day.
Our reader said to me, “This was my day today.” I was trying to think of my biggest problem on the day he wrote. I was in the Grosser Saal of the Mozarteum here in Salzburg, reviewing a Schubertiade, starring Cecilia Bartoli, the mezzo-soprano. She was about 20 feet in front of me. I was in the dead middle of a row. The concert was sold out. It was very hot in the Grosser Saal, as usual. (Years ago, I nicknamed it the “Grosser Sauna.”) I wanted to take my jacket off. There was no intermission in the Schubertiade. I could not find a convenient time to stand up and take off my jacket. (It was too difficult, sitting down.) I was a little ticked as a result.
That was my problem. No one shot at me.
Many of the same people who want to disarm the police want to disarm the military, or hollow out the military. If the American people let them do it, fine — it’s a democracy, and the majority rules (usually). I’m not sure they’ll be happy with the results, however. And they will be able to change course. Democracies are self-correcting. But there may be a lot of pain and agony in the meantime.
P.S. If our guy, above, is disarmed, or not adequately armed, I hope he will quit his job. No one should be asked to be a sitting duck. Better to beg on the streets.