2 years, 4 months ago
On July 20 Glenn Reynolds linked a report about a respectful police officer conducting a stop to investigate an instance of open carry. I won’t link the video, but you should stop by and view it. Everyone is lauding the respectfulness and professionalism with which the cop conducted himself. Even http://www.reddit.com/r/guns/ had good things to say.
Very well. I’m willing to accept this, but there is something I want to highlight, something that still bothers me about this good stop, and compare it to this bad stop. In both instances there is one commonality. Both officers stated that they needed identification because, in their own words, “I don’t know who you are.”
I have been open carrying during walking my dog in the afternoons now for several months. Police officers drive right by without so much as slowing down. No one runs for cover, no one panics, and everyone wants to come up and chat and pet my dog (interesting, because she is a 74 pound Doberman). I haven’t been asked about carrying by any officers. Frankly, I can’t seem to get anyone very interested in the fact that I am openly carrying a weapon. I’m okay with that. I’d just as soon they not care.
But when I do get asked, my speech is ready. If I am asked, the officer doesn’t need to know who I am. That’s irrelevant. I am not engaged in any illegality or criminal behavior, so my name doesn’t matter. Said another way, the legitimacy of the exercise of my constitutional rights isn’t contingent upon a law enforcement officer knowing my name or other personal information. I’ll be happy to show them my CHP, but only after I get agreement to my proposition. That’s the point that the open carrier in the video was pressing home. Fortunately, the officer accepted the proposition, but still, the notion that the officer needs to identify the carrier is ubiquitous among law enforcement officers. And it’s wrong.
Next, to cops behaving badly.
A police officer’s dash cam in Canton, OH caught a disturbing exchange last month between a cop and a driver during a traffic stop. In it, the cop can be heard (and seen) berating a man for not telling the officer immediately that he had a concealed carry permit and thus a concealed weapon, even saying that he should have killed him. But there’s just one problem: the man tried several times but the officer cut him off.
That’s a problem. In Ohio (as in many states), the law requires concealed carry gun owners to immediately inform law enforcement if they have a weapon when they are pulled over. So when the man, named William, was not allowed to do so immediately, and the cop eventually found out, that created an issue.
“I could blast you in the mouth right now!” the officer says in the video after finding out about the man’s gun. “I’m so close to caving in your Godda**ed head,” he adds. “You fu** with me! You’re just a stupid human being!”
He continues: “Fu**ing talking to me with a Godd***ed gun! You want me to pull mine and stick it to your head? … I tell you what I should have done. As soon as I saw your gun I should have taken two steps back, pulled my Glock 40 and put ten bullets in your ass and let you drop.”
“And I wouldn’t have lost any sleep!” he screams.
Here is the video if you’re interested. This is the other end of the spectrum. The instance that Glenn cites is a respectful and professional officer, albeit still caught up in the notion that he needs to identify people behaving legally. The officer in Canton is an uneducated jerk and a menace to society. The police department would do well to cut ties with this asshole as soon as possible, before he gets himself and the department into legal trouble.
As a final note, it should be pointed out that it’s cops like this who give credence to the notion (some people preach) that the police are simply another gang we cut loose to terrorize the gangs we don’t like. I would observe that frankly, we don’t need any gangs at all. They can all go home.