Props to The Boys in Blue. Cops help maintain social order by protecting their employers (that’s us) and enforcing society’s rules and regulations (also us, to a point). Most police work is excruciatingly dull. Some of it, for some of them, is highly dangerous. Members of the constabulary who find themselves at the sharp end of violent crime never know exactly when a situation will turn into a life-or-death struggle for survival. That said, although we’ve never walked a mile in their shiny shoes, we still have the right to wag our fingers when they step over the thin blue line. Especially if they piss on our metaphorical rug (carpet not hairpiece, although that applies as well). To wit, the metrowestdailynews.com’s story 2 Framingham cops under investigation for pointing gun, threat.
It’s not a well written story. But at least the lead give us a glimpse of the smoking gun.
A Framingham Police officer is accused of pointing his gun at a man and threatening to shoot him, according to a department e-mail which is part of an investigation into the actions of two officers.
The undated e-mail, obtained by the MetroWest Daily News, details allegations against Sgt. Scott Brown and Detective Lenny Pini.
Both have been on paid administrative leave since May 6 while the department investigates.
The e-mail was written by Lt. Harry D. Wareham and sent to Police Chief Steven Carl and Lt. Michael Hill.
Basically, the Lt. recounts a complaint by the regional manager of EZ Storage (501 Cochituate Road, Framingham, MA). As far as I can tell, this is how it went down.
[NOTE: the paper fails to provide the actual email. This makes the story third-hand news.]
According to the unnamed EZ Storage manager, at around 6:30 p.m. on April 29, one of his employees (female) saw a man urinating next to an SUV parked outside the warehouse. A second man was in the car. When the employee told the wicked pisser to stop, the man turned towards the employee with his penis in his hand. She said something along the lines of “Do you know it’s a crime to expose yourself to a female?” The man yelled back “then stop looking.”’
A second (male) EZ Storage employee drove his golf cart toward the SUV. The man relieving himself “points a gun at the EZ storage worker and tells him ‘Move it or get shot. You are interfering with the police.'”
Apparently, it didn’t end there. (Hint for next time: walk away.) The urinating man again repeated his threat. The employee told the men “not to urinate at the business.” The car’s passenger responded, “I have to go somewhere.”
EZ Storage sent Lt. Wareham surveillance discs of the incident.
The men in question, Sgt. Brown and Detective Pini, were assigned to the narcotics unit. It seems clear they were not in uniform at the time. And they’re not on the job now; they’re on paid leave pending an investigation.
My takeaway from Sgt. Brown’s [alleged] infraction: never remove your concealed/open carry gun from its holster without firing it. In other words, never remove your gun from your holster unless you intend to use deadly force. In other other words, leave the weapon holstered until and unless you’re ready to shoot and kill someone.
The law on brandishing a firearm is as straightforward as it is widespread. If you bring your gun to a ready state with the intent to threaten or intimidate someone, you’re busted. But what about aiming a gun at someone who’s threatening or intimidating you? (Not applicable in this case.) Obviously, the law is on your side. Just be prepared for the Spanish Inquisition—regardless of the fact that no one is prepared for the Spanish Inquisition.
And here’s where I part company with a lot of people: I’m an absolutist. Again, I believe you should never remove your gun from your holster unless you intend to use deadly force.
It’s not that I want to shoot someone who poses a deadly threat. Far from it. But I want to be able to shoot someone who poses a deadly threat. If I put another step or two in the firing sequence—unholster gun, point, aim, ISSUE A VERBAL WARNING, THINK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT I WANT TO SHOOT, shoot—I may very well fail to execute. Literally.
Stressful situations are stressful enough without putting a one, two, three red light! green light! pause into the shooting process. Even without a break in the action for a moral/tactical yes/no, it’s not a given that I will be able to shoot successfully in a life-or-death situation. Not at all. Adrenalin dumps are serious stuff, prone to scrambling your usual thought processes and altering your physiological capabilities (for both good and bad). So why add complexity to the process?
I believe that the safest way to deal with a life-threatening gunfight, or potential gunfight, is to issue a verbal warning and/or flash your gun before you unholster the weapon. If you want to. “Stop! I’ve got a gun!”
I realize that some of of you more expert handgun defense types may think I’m crazy. Why give the potential perp a heads-up? I’m not saying you should. But I am saying if you’re going to give the assailant time to reconsider his attack, do so before you bring your gun to bear. That way you can follow your training (training right?) and shoot effectively, if needs be.
I believe that this is the safest way to shoot someone. And the safest way not to shoot someone. It is my firm conviction that holding perps at gunpoint is not for you. I am open to the possibility that I’m completely wrong. But this much I do know: it is completely wrong for a member of the police to use their gun to threaten or intimidate anyone. Just as it is for you. Only more so.