Cop-Killing and Societal Pathology

Push people too far and they'll do bad things.

USA Today reports a disturbing trend of police officers being murdered from ambush:

Nearly 40% of police officers fatally shot this year have been slain in ambush-style attacks or when they were surprised by suspects with firearms, according to a USA TODAY review.

A total of fifty police officers have been killed this year, which is a 32% increase over last year.

Robert Kaminski, a USC criminologist, states that head injuries have become more common as attackers learn to place their shots to avoid body armor.  In 1994, 10% of police fatalities involved ambush.  This style of attack rose to 31% in 2009.

San Diego. Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, a Marine veteran, was killed Aug. 7 while stopped at a streetlight. The shooter, a suspect in a separate attack moments before, pulled next to Henwood's car and killed the officer with a shotgun blast to the head.

San Antonio. Like Henwood, Bexar County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Vann, 48, was killed May 28, when a car pulled next to the deputy's patrol car stopped at a red light. Without warning, the suspect fired on Vann with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Another story on p. 8A of the August 26 issue told how an officer was investigating a broken window in a trailer park when a person in a nearby trailer blew her head off with a shotgun.  The article described another officer's murder by an illegal immigrant at a routine traffic stop.

No, actually, please don't.
Fight them in court instead.


The man who murdered the officer with the shotgun had been judged insane for shooting at deputies in another jurisdiction.  He wasn't supposed to have a firearm.  Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech student who killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before committing suicide, had a history of mental instability before he bought the guns he used.

It's hard to keep people from getting guns.  California's efforts to set up a database to keep guns away from mentally-unbalanced individuals don't work.  The illegal immigrant murderer had a gun, despite a) having no right to be in our country at all and b) it being illegal for all noncitizens, even legal ones, to possess a firearm.

Regardless of the law, anybody who wants a gun can get one.  By definition, murderers aren't too concerned about the finer points of the law.  Liberals ought to figure this out, but they probably won't. reports that there are more than 800,000 full-time police officers in the US and that an average of about 155 die in the line of duty each year; fewer than .02% of our police officers are killed in any given year.  Although each death is tragic, most police officers will die of old age, but that wouldn't make a very good story.

USA Today speculated that budget cuts reduced the number of officers which would make attacks more likely, but having more targets in an ambush would just mean more casualties - most murderers know it's a good idea to get rid of witnesses.

Is This A Trend?

It's possible that people are deciding that cops are the enemy.  Americans have always had a lawless streak.  Our myths include independent-minded Western gunmen who upheld truth, justice, and the American Way while ignoring or defying official law enforcement forces.

Our 100-year flirtation with "progressive" thought which asserts that the government ought to take care of everybody has involved government more and more deeply in our lives.  Once liberals realized that welfare recipients would vote for them, the stage was set for massive intrusion.  The only hope liberals have of being able to pay off enough voters to stay in power is to increase their control of the economy and thus of our lives.

Some famous liberals have decided that they aren't liberals after all.  This happened last year to the famous playwright David Mamet who explained,

I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other - the world in which I actually functioned day to day - was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).  [emphasis added]

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

David Mamet thought he was a liberal and that the government should right wrongs.  The way in which he lived his life each day revealed him that the prejudice, racism, and hostility the liberals claimed simply wasn't evident.  He finally realized that he'd been a conservative all along - he did the best he could, observed that others did likewise, and expected government to leave him alone.

He hadn't realized government was the problem until suddenly he did, thanks to conservative writers making their arguments and having them ring true.  Once he thought about it, the arguments of liberals rang transparently false.

Mr. Mamet is a man of wealth.  He's the sort who's treated respectfully by the police and, if they give him too much trouble, he can afford lawyers.

What about ordinary people?  What about Joe the Plumber who lost his job for criticizing candidate Obama?

Cops versus Citizens

As much as we'd like to think that cops are there to protect and serve - and, of course, a great many are - cops don't always behave reasonably, or even lawfully.

Florida courts have ruled that people have the right to flash headlights to warn other motorists that there's a speed trap ahead.  Nevertheless, Florida police ticket motorists who do this, despite court rulings explicitly forbidding them from doing so.

This blatantly lawless activity is quite sensible for the police: most people pay up instead of taking a day off from work to appear in court even when they're sure to win.  The cops get to keep their ill-gotten gains and pay no price.  Would it be a surprise to find citizens resenting cops who wantonly violate the law in this way?

Then there's "civil forfeiture."  Scragged readers know that more and more laws are being passed to increase the number of federal crimes.  What may be news is that more than 400 federal laws allow authorities to seize money from people who haven't been charged with any crime.  The Wall Street Journal reports that more than $2.5 billion was seized in 2010.

Part of the problem is that local police departments have improper incentives to grab cash:

Under a 1984 federal law, state and local law-enforcement agencies that work with Uncle Sam on seizures get to keep up to 80% of the proceeds.

The term "civil" in "civil forfeiture" means they don't have to charge you with a crime, they charge your money with a crime and seize it.  You have to sue them to get it back.  Proving that your money is not ill-gotten gains is difficult.

Jorge Jaramillo, a construction worker, says he couldn't afford a lawyer after more than $16,000 was seized from him last year in a traffic stop. "I had all of $20 left," he says.

In a Delaware federal-court filing, the Justice Department argued the money was related to drug dealing. It pointed to air fresheners in the car, which could mask the smell of drugs, and a fast-food bag containing cigar tobacco, which the filing said was often a sign that the cigar wrapper had been used to smoke marijuana.

The filing also said a police dog had signaled that the cash carried residue of illegal drugs. Such "dog sniffs" are a common but controversial feature in forfeitures.

"Dog sniffs" are inconclusive - much of the cash in circulation has been tainted with drug residue at one time or another.  Even if your cash smells of drugs, it doesn't mean that you are a dealer, only that someone who handled the money before you dealt with drugs.

How many people will have to be deprived of their money without due process before some of them start shooting back?  People can be pushed only so far.

We sincerely hope that USA Today's report of police officers being killed from ambush doesn't mark the beginning of a trend, but it very well could be.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Reminds me of the beginning of the American Revolution. The redcoats were first sent over to protect the colonies from the French and the Indians; they were welcomed. Then they started abusing the hospitality and overstaying their welcome; the colonists started throwing rocks at them. Things escalated to bullets, and we all know the rest of the story. When does a law-enforcement force become an occupying power?

September 7, 2011 9:37 AM

There is a sense of pleasure the author appears to be taking in so many cops being killed. That is alarming and sad to me. I'm not saying that the author is openly calling for cops to be shot, but there's a sort of "serves them right!" mentality that is distasteful.

We may dislike what cops have been doing **in some places and in some instances** but to portray them as The Enemy and be gleeful in street-thug ambushes is beneath our intelligence.

These attackers weren't regular American citizens who were defending themselves or their families. They're gang-bangers and psychos who would have just as gladly gunned you down as they did the cop.

A more objective view of this trend would point out that the "pushing back" these thugs are doing is based on liberal lies. As with the London rioters, the American lower class has swallowed the liberal lie that the upper class has held them down. They're not "pushing back" for any of the same reasons you support - they wouldn't even understand your argument if it was presented to them. They're "pushing back" against the capitalist pigs that steal their money. _That_ is the kind of "pushing back" you're supporting here, not a pushing back for freedoms and liberties.

PS. The image you chose to insert is quite offensive. I understand that the image wasn't created by you and that you're merely referencing it, but it was a poor selection. Not only does it portray police officers as pigs but it shouts "kill them!" openly. Your (tiny) caption does little to negate that.

September 7, 2011 10:07 AM


The analogy to British redcoats is weak. There, you had foreign armies and mercenaries policing local communities.

The redcoats and colonists did not view themselves as being equal citizens of the same country, only living in different areas. It was considerably lower class to live in The Colonies. British soldiers routinely ridiculed and subordinated the local communities they patrolled before gladly returning home to England.

Modern police officers are members of the communities they work in. When they step out of line, they are fired (and at times prosecuted) by that same community.

September 7, 2011 10:21 AM

Some years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada there was a police officer who slammed a woman, seven months pregnant, against the hood of a patrol car. She had committed some minor traffic violation. She was unarmed, and received a traffic ticket. The police officer received a written reprimand.
A young man was walking home late one night from the park where he had been shooting some baskets, and he was carrying a basketball. A policeman stopped him for questioning. The man was unarmed. The young man, who happened to be wearing black skin, was shot - in the back - nine (9) times. The inquest called the shooting justified. The policeman, is, as far as I know, still on the force.
A man was walking across a street in Washington, and was whittling at the same time. A a police officer was at the light, and saw the knife. The officer got out of his car and yelled at the man to stop. The man had a hearing problem, the officer shot him in the back and killed him.
I'm not sure if the city is Seattle or Tacoma. But the video recorded by the police camera on the car was sent around the internet.
Every day, somewhere in America, police brutality is used.
A young man was on his knees in a bathroom with his hands on his head, and was shot by a policeman with an "assault" weapon. A long gun. That too, happened here in Las Vegas. It was the second killing that that police officer was involved in. He was exonerated. The execution style murder was justified in a coroner's inquest hearing.
Do you, Ifon, feel safe when a patrol car pulls up behind you? Or do you start worrying that you might have been doing something wrong?
The CIA calls it "blowback".
The police officers roaming the streets of Las Vegas, and most other cities in the nation, have more protective gear than the soldiers in Viet Nam was afforded. We were in a war zone.
If, at 2 A. M. here in Las Vegas, one crosses the street where there is no crosswalk, and there is no traffic, and a police officer in hiding (an ambush) sees the "crime", there is an arrest. Though no one was in danger at any time. One goes directly to jail for jaywalking. After a few hours, you will be released on your own recognizance, if you promise to show up in court. At the hearing, you will be fined $175.00. And the crime rate has increased.
Someone stole my scooter that was chained to a lamp post at my apt. complex. When I called the police I was informed that no police officer would be coming out to talk to me. I had to go to the nearest substation to make a report. I'm not happy with the police. No report no crime.
I have said before, and I will say again, when the Revolution comes, and its coming, I do not want to be a policeman anywhere.
Patience, your analogy was spot on. That is why policemen and women are in such great fear.
Thank you,
Robert Walker

September 7, 2011 11:27 AM

"Do you, Ifon, feel safe when a patrol car pulls up behind you? Or do you start worrying that you might have been doing something wrong?"

I feel neither safe nor scared. I don't feel anything out of the ordinary at all. I feel like it's just a guy doing his job. Getting pulled over isn't a big deal. You get a ticket, you drive away.

I've had a patrol car pull up and ask if I saw someone walk through the area. I hadn't.

I've had a patrol car pull up and comment on my Z06 (back when I had it). We had a great discussion.

Why do you feel terrified around cops so much?

Do you know any police officers personally, or do you take your cop caricature from movies and TV shows? I have several cop friends. They are all good people that do their job correctly.

Even if you hate cops, there's certainly no reason to be glad that police officers are being gunned down at traffic lights by gang-bangers. Certainly you're smart enough to realize that gang-bangers aren't "pushing back" for the same reasons you are.

September 7, 2011 11:49 AM

Offensicht, the messenger, is both applauded and scolded by the gentry here on Scragged. What I see missing from this debate are solutions, if there are any. Allow me to offer this observation and long term solution.

Police officers at one time were respected and given leeway in their investigations of crimes, both civil and criminal, with common sense processes. Some overstepped the boundaries to be sure but for the most part were effective. The sixties were the beginning of the end for widespread respect for police officers, they were called pigs and worse. Laws such as the Miranda rights laws were passed and the criteria for making an arrest made it impossible for a policeman to make an arrest to stand up to a lawyer in court. Many a time everyone in the courtroom knows that a criminal has gotten off scot free but because of a technicality in adhering to he law he/she is released.

Further erosion of the respect for policemen occurred in another setting, the classroom. Children are allowed to backtalk a teacher early on and it is no surprise that later on in the classroom they cuss the teacher. There is little the teacher can do as she will be sued for harming little johnny or Susie's self respect by correcting them. Fight eventually break out and guess who is called in, that's right, the police. They are viewed by the students as the enemy and disrespect evolves from there.

The long term solution is to implement corporal law into the classroom with serious consequences for the children and the parents. It can be anything as simple as large fines for those with jobs and taking away food stamps and benefits if parents allow their children to not toe the line. This is a draconian solution but necessary to turn this problem around. Tough love is good love. The message will be heard. The laws need to be reviewed concerning teachers in the classroom and allow common sense to prevail on the part of the teacher. If she/he demonstrates that they don't have that quality, fire them, and by the way, implement the immediate cessation of teachers unions. They are as much of a cause for the lack of respect for the police as anything.

September 7, 2011 12:18 PM

Wherever did you get the idea that I hate cops? You are making judgements without enough data. But that is common with a lot of people who have been subjected to the psychological drivel of colleges.

I have a brother who is a cop. I have had the pleasure of having a beer with a friend of mine who is a cop, as well as having lunch with him on several occasions, and supported a patrolwoman who ran for sheriff here. None of which makes me like nor trust policemen as a whole. There are many who are upstanding and fine people. I believe that it is the "think" that is learned once one is on the FORCE.

Police brutality exists. Rodney King might agree with me. Or the father and mother of a homeless young man, unarmed, that was beaten to death by six policemen at a bus stop because they thought that he was trying to steal a car. Six policemen beat him for 10 minutes with clubs - until the paramedics arrived. He cried out for his father to come and help him. He died in the hospital. But, not to worry, an investigation by that very police department is under way.

I have had some very good conversations with policemen, on a one on one situation. They shouldn't be allowed to travel in packs.

As for television shows influencing me, (I was going to put fool in here, but decided against it) I haven't owned a television since 1982.

Bassboat's suggestion that corporal punishment be re-introduced is way off the mark. But parental responsibility may be the ticket, so to speak.

In Philadelphia, the mayor has instituted a curfew. He has suggested that the parents of the kids wreaking havoc in that city be held responsible for their children's actions. What a novel idea.

Thank you,
Robert Walker

September 7, 2011 3:10 PM

Robert, data abounds.

In at least half a dozen different threads you've recounted horror stories about rogue cops. You've bitterly asked me if I knew how many "armed police forces were patrolling my city". You continually assert that we live under a police state.

The definition of hate: "Feel intense or passionate dislike for someone or something".

Read your first comment on this thread, then read that definition of hate again.

Those of us that went to college know that words mean things.

September 7, 2011 3:49 PM

I have Webster's New World Dictionary, Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, Bouvier's Law Dictionary (three volume set) as well as Roget's Thesaurus on a side table near my computer.

Have you ever determined how many police FORCES are in your immediate area? You might want to find that out. It could be quite interesting. Does your local police FORCE have its own tank? There are at least three police FORCES in Southern Nevada that have their own tanks. That of course excludes the Air Police FORCE stationed at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas Nevada.

Here's the way it works: A smart person who doesn't know something that may be important to that person or family, finds out. Are you smart enough to find out how many armed police FORCES are in your County? Or do you plan to continue in the bliss of ignorance.

FACT: The fastest growing business in the United States of America is building new prisons, and running those prisons. Are the jails and prisons your area being run by private corporations?

The Criminal Justice System, and it is just that, CRIMINAL Justice, is among the fastest growing businesses in this nation.

We have, per capita, more people in jails and prisons than China, Cuba, Venezuela, or any other country in the world. These are government statistics. Everything I write can be verified by anyone with the smarts to look.

One FBI statistic reports that "5500 times a day a crime is prevented by a private citizen with a gun". How many crimes were prevented yesterday by a policeman being present to prevent it? If you can find one instance where a policeman prevented a crime, without first being called in to do something such as break up a fight, I will concede that you might be a little left - er - right.

I do not hate anyone. And for you to draw such a conclusion is beyond foolish. You are the problem, Ifon, I am the solution. You browbeat and attack, I educate. The truth will set you free.
Thank you,
Robert Walker

September 7, 2011 4:44 PM

By "educate" you mean statements like this:

"FACT: The fastest growing business in the United States of America is building new prisons, and running those prisons"

That is __NOT__ a fact, it is a falsehood.

A simple internet search shows that the fastest growing business in the US is technical/computer consulting - growing at a rate of 83% between 2005, 2008 and projections out to 2018.

Building prisons isn't even in the top 5 fastest-growth industries.

The only list that even includes it (at all) is a list published by IBISWorld (number 6). InfoNet, AmericanCareer and most others don't even have it in the top 25.

Perhaps you should slow down, yank out one of those dictionaries you mentioned and look up the definition of "fact".

September 7, 2011 8:34 PM

Who the hell cares how big or how many police forces are in my area? I HOPE that my local police force has a tank. Good for them! Better that the good guys have tanks than the bad guys. And if they can't have a tank, what other toys don't you want them to have? What about full-auto machine guns? Incidentally, I'm working on getting an FFL right now so that I can buy a full-auto machine gun. If I can buy one, why shouldn't the cops be allowed to have them? Whether you know the size of your local police force or not makes no difference. No offense, but that's just empty alarmism.

September 7, 2011 8:49 PM

Twibi, you took the words right out of my mouth.

It's not that I'm not "smart" enough to look it up. Plainly: I don't care.

I mean, suppose I was to learn that the local police force was five times bigger than I thought it was. Suppose I learned that they had half a dozen tanks, a few howitzers, two back-up SWAT teams and a hundred full-auto machine guns.

Other than being mad that Yet Another Government Agency Is Wasting My Tax Dollars, I couldn't care less.

Am I suppose to be scared that lots of patrol cars are out and about? Lots of cops with guns strapped on?

NYC has something like 35,000 police officers. That means that the NYPD, on its own, is basically a Fortune 500 company based on employee size. 35,000 sounds like a lot, but is it? NYC has 8.17 million people so that's 1 cop for every 233 people. I don't know if that's a high or low ratio per the norm. It certainly isn't scaring or alarming at face value.

By contrast, I know of a small town in Kansas, population 400, that has 3 police officers. That means their ratio is 1 cop for ever 133 people. Or put differently, they have twice as many cops-to-civilians as NYC does. Should the Kansas town be alarmed at the size of their police force?

Robert says I'm naive for not being more scared about all of this. Maybe he's right, but I fail to see - logically - why that is so.

September 7, 2011 9:10 PM

Ultimately, the real culprits in these flagrantly illegal examples - civil forfeitures, most blatantly - are the SOBs who create such federal laws that empower themselves to seize your property without conviction, and judges who do not stand athwart these traitors yelling STOP. Any law that allows this behaviour is explicitly and undebatably unconstitutional. A traffic stop and a dog sniff is not due process, and according to the Constitution, no property may be taken without said due process. The police, however, are the visible arm of these violations, and are thus ripe for such abuse. The difference is, that my mistrust of them and there like comes from their actions contrary to the Constitution at the bidding of their political masters. When a Marxist-terrorist or an illegal alien kills a cop, the motivation is clearly different and at very best, *highly* suspect. At very best.

Where the current row between lfon and Robert Walker goes, I would again point out that while the United States is *not* a police state -- far from it -- it is still not free, especially not as the founders understood the term. And as such, and for reasons stated above, I most certainly do not trust police officers, especially when I am in my car.

It is at that time that they are paid to run contrary to my best interests. If one pulls up behind me, it is in my best interests to be very careful indeed, but in his best interests - and not in mine - to find something to ticket me with, despite the fact that I am harming or threatening the life, liberty, or property of no one at all. Don't tell me it doesn't happen, it has, and to me. They are not to be trusted at any time. You are to be trusted with the security of you and yours, and meanwhile, their political masters must be properly brought to heel.

September 8, 2011 12:15 AM

Police in Puerto Rico Are Accused of Abuses in Justice Dept. Report
The 17,000-officer police force of Puerto Rico is accused of a pattern of civil rights violations and other illegal practices.

So who ought to be afraid of cops?

WASHINGTON — In a blistering condemnation of the second-largest police force in the United States, the Justice Department is accusing the Puerto Rico Police Department of a “profound” and “longstanding” pattern of civil rights violations and other illegal practices that have left it “broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects.”

In a 116-page report that officials intend to make public Thursday, the civil rights division of the Justice Department accused the Puerto Rico Police Department of systematically “using force, including deadly force, when no force or lesser force was called for,” unnecessarily injuring hundreds of people and killing “numerous others.”

The report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, says the 17,000-officer force routinely conducts illegal searches and seizures without warrants. It accuses the force of a pattern of attacking nonviolent protesters and journalists in a manner “designed to suppress the exercise of protected First Amendment rights.”

And it says investigators “uncovered troubling evidence” that law enforcement officers in Puerto Rico appear to routinely discriminate against people of Dominican descent and “fail to adequately police sex assault and domestic violence” cases — including spousal abuse by fellow officers.

“Unfortunately,” the report found, “far too many P.R.P.D. officers have broken their oath to uphold the rule of law, as they have been responsible for acts of crime and corruption and have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the residents of Puerto Rico.”

The report is likely to intensify a sense of distress among the nearly four million American citizens who live on Puerto Rico, where violent crime has spilled into well-to-do areas. While violent crime has plummeted in most of the mainland United States, the murder rate in Puerto Rico is soaring. In 2011, there have been 786 homicides — 117 more than at this point last year.

Rather than helping to solve the crime wave, the Puerto Rico Police Department is part of the problem, the report contends. In October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 61 officers from the department in the largest police-corruption operation in bureau history. And the arrest of Puerto Rican police officers, the report says, is hardly rare.

From January 2005 to November 2010, it said, there were more than 1,709 such arrests for offenses “ranging from simple assault and theft to domestic violence, drug trafficking and murder.” During a comparable period, the New York Police Department, with a force about twice the size, had about 607 such arrests.

“The degree of police corruption and criminal misconduct in Puerto Rico is high and contributes to the public safety and civil rights crisis,” the report said. “More P.R.P.D. officers are involved in criminal activity than in any other major law enforcement agency in the country.”

A “finding” by the civil rights division of a pattern or practice of constitutional violations by a police department is a precursor to a lawsuit, which either goes to trial or, if the local authorities agree to changes, may be settled on the day it is filed. The division has 17 such investigations open, including in New Orleans, Newark and Seattle.

Its investigation of the Puerto Rico police, which began in July 2008, resulted in one of the most extensive such critiques the department has ever produced. It condemns nearly every aspect of the force — its hiring and training practices, the way it assigns and promotes officers, and its policies governing officer behavior and accountability for misconduct.

The report recommends 133 remedial measures that would amount to a sweeping intervention.

September 11, 2011 5:29 PM

I'd bet you would get a lot more votes for stringing up Leftist judges and criminal-defense lawyers than for police or criminals. As judges and shysters have made punishment for crime through the legal syatem more and more improbable, cops and/or victims have to work around the system. Justice is what people ultimately demand and deserve, and justice means punishment for criminal acts, not being found 'guilty' at trial. Even those found guilty may do little to no time. Busting crooks on humbug rousts is only the same thing the feds did to Al Capone. The end is to incarcerate bad guys. My question is always "Does this scumbag belong in jail?" not "Can you prove he did this?" Some beaner construction-worker has $16,000 in his car? Yeah, no problem there! What an outrage -- I often carry multiple thousands of dollars in my car. Rodney King deserved everything he got and then some. If a cop tells you to lean up against the car and you don't do it, you're gonna get thunked. Continue resisting and they're gonna send you to the ER. Doesn't bother me a bit. Rodney was/is/will be trash and worth not a nano-second of my concern. It's similar to nationalism: "My country; may she always be in the right; but my country right or wrong." Because nobody in any other country is gonna give a crap about you.

September 16, 2011 8:00 PM
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