According to reuters.com, you’re looking at “an undercover police officer, who had been marching with anti-police demonstrators” who “aims his gun at protesters after some in the crowd attacked him and his partner in Oakland, California December 10, 2014.” That’s the caption to the photo and that’s all the information they provide on this incident. Which is ironic. Because this post is about guns, undercover cops and limited information . . .
To quote the unrelentingly pithy William S. Gilbert, “Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.” Translated by the immortal Jeff Cooper, that means know your target. No really. Know your target or DON’T SHOOT.
Imagine if you came upon this scene near a park and the two men were tackling a woman and the woman was shouting RAPE! You’d be forgiven for assuming that she was being raped, drawing your firearm and engaging the “bad guys” in an armed confrontation. Forgiven by many, but probably not the prosecutor. If you shoot and kill one or both of the undercover cops who were trying to arrest a perp shouting rape? Oy.
According to police protocol, undercover or plainclothes cops should reveal their badges when the s hits the f. Who has time? Who can see it? Undercover or plainclothes cops should yell POLICE during an incident. Who can hear them? Even “trained” police officers shoot undercover cops from time to time. In this case . . .
Chief Browne claimed the still unnamed officer pulled out a badge and identified himself as law enforcement per department policy, though several members of the media and marchers reported that they did not see a badge.
That intel comes from photographyisnotacrime.com, who object to the fact that the officer in question aimed his gun at a camera. Regardless of whether or not you bring a camera to a gunfight (not a bad idea), not to coin a phrase, this could be you! Then what? I don’t know about you, but I reckon I’d go into full combat mode if someone aims a gun at me.
The general point: there are plainclothes cops out there, somewhere. You don’t want to shoot them. Unfortunately, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. The whole point of undercover police work: you don’t have a scorecard.
The safest strategy for an armed American? Do NOT to intervene in a situation where innocent life APPEARS threatened. Only intervene in a situation where you are SURE of who’s attacking whom, and who’s who. And maybe not even then (you are not obligated to protect innocent life and nothing attracts a bad guy’s attention faster than a gun).
The best way to ensure you don’t shoot the wrong person or persons: to watch the entire event unfold, from the beginning. For example, you see a woman walking by a park. Two men approach her. They do NOT identify themselves as police. They immediately and violently assault her and drag her off into the bushes. It’s a pretty sure bet that what you’ve seen justifies armed intervention.
By the same token, if you see a bad guy enter a Stop ‘N Rob and hold up the cashier, it’s chocks away. Yes but – make no mistake, making a mistake is a lot easier than you’d imagine. A robber could switch places with the cashier while you’re looking for cover or concealment or a quick exit, stage left. You might not remember who’s who. Even with the best of intentions, one small trigger press could ruin many, many lives.