Our streets are getting meaner. It matters not what your news source is, each day we are greeted by shootings, stabbing and beat downs across our nation with our once beautiful major cities leading in the carnage. This past week I participated in a “qualification” with my regular carry handgun, along with a covey of fellow retired officers who use the event to visit, mull over our good fortune to be alive and reset the world according to our right leaning vision of the America we once policed. We do this to meet the requirements of the law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004, a provision in US Code that grants carry privileges, across jurisdictional lines, to active duty officers and retired officers who meet certain criteria. This code is intended to give experienced officers a carry privilege nationwide whether active or retired. In short, it puts more “good guys with guns” on the streets with the ability to protect themselves and perhaps lend dignity to the ugliness in America.
Policing is being attacked from every direction, and it shows. Virtually every agency in Missouri, where the profession still enjoys relatively good standing, is working short of the officers it needs to carry out the expanding responsibilities of the job. Defund, underfund, restrict equipment, and other restrictions are shifting the advantage in confrontation to the bad guys. An example is the restrictions on a choke hold, a technique the profession has long ago abandoned. We have relied upon a neck restraint that shuts of the carotid flow momentarily and thus renders the resistor unconscious, again momentarily, so that he can be restrained. It looks like a choke hold to the untrained so officers will not use it for fear of being charged or disciplined. This technique does not shut off the air flow and is not a “choke” hold. When you begin limiting the options for manual control of a combatant you shorten the distance between verbal command and lethality substantially. We tend to forget that policing involves men and women who are not looking for a fight, but who won’t run from one either. How we fight, as a group of retirees, is evolving. We noted that as we age, standing your ground in defiance begins to yield to the technique of apologizing and running, praying all the while, the running doesn’t involve distances!
As I slip into the 70’s certain realizations become evident. I don’t have a chemical irritant on my belt, nor handcuffs let alone a baton of some description. Three hand surgeries and arthritis have rendered my hands useless in a fist fight, less I destroy the fine work of the doctors in guaranteeing the dignified use of a knife and fork. To continue my enjoyment of the shooting sports, I asked my surgeon to put a trigger configuration in my fused right index finger, which he did, thus guaranteeing I can still smoothly pull a trigger. As I looked around the group of retirees this week, I came to the certain realization that age and experience will overcome youth and enthusiasm, thus making us a still formidable adversary in a confrontation. I also came to the conclusion this group of officers would take the fight to the bad guy in a confrontation that mandated a lethal response. Such is the wisdom in the Officer Safety Act. To a man, our group had been blooded in confrontation, some with fatal outcomes, and you would be wise to bet on us when the chips are down.
So it is. Old centurions have something to offer in the pursuit of peace in a troubled world. I am proud to have stood with this group of guys, who may have had their differences in another era, but who share in the belief that preparation and skill still make a difference when the street demands a response. This same skill, training and experience has taught us that there will be a point in time when old centurions place a greater emphasis on apologizing and running rather than fighting. I say this with an advisory, though. When you corner an old officer, be ready. Age and treachery is a formidable asset.
Have a great week!