Sunday, March 8, 2015

Police Response and Posturing - Things Need to Improve

In the relatively recent past, there have been numerous shootings at the Hayward BART Station:

In each instance, the police response was remarkably underwhelming. I know this, because I live and work across the street. The response to the 2012 shooting, in fact, didn't even get noticed by the press. You won't find a single article about it online.

As far as I know, none of the shooters in any of these instances were ever identified or arrested. This is despite the fact that the Hayward Station is a bustling transit hub with numerous security cameras and a near 24/7 police presence.

Last week, in a neighborhood just a few blocks away, it was a whole nother story. Early Sunday morning, some moron decided that the smartest response to being pulled over was to shoot at the officer and then flee on foot. What ensued was a neighborhood lockdown, a 12-hour manhunt, and a spectacle that made the streets of Hayward look like those of Fallujah. The dummy was eventually captured, and I imagine he'll remain locked up for quite some time--to which I applaud and say good riddance.

But all this leaves me wondering; why is the response to a threat on an officer taken so much more seriously than a threat on an entire station of civilians? How is it that anyone can walk into a downtown transit hub adjacent to City Hall and get away with discharging a firearm, time and time again? Why is it though, that when an officer is threatened, a militaristic dragnet is launched? This kind of disparate response doesn't seem right to me.

To be clear, I'm not objecting to a thorough and professional police response as is warranted. But in my humble opinion the police are not nearly as dedicated to responding to threats on the public as they are to threats on the brotherhood--I'm talking to the point of absurdity.

When images of last week's manhunt started to appear on various social media sites. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Images posted to various social media sites showing Hayward PD's 12-hour manhunt on Sunday, March 1, 2015.

When I look at these pictures, I don't see peace officers; I see commandos. Many are not wearing police uniforms, badges, or the regular police patch. They're wearing battle-fatigues, special forces insignia, and they're armed to the teeth. These guys look like they're going to war.

Now I won't pretend to know what the proper armament is for any given policing situation, but let's be honest, dressing up like G.I. Joe is completely ridiculous and unnecessary. We're not in the desert, the jungle, or any theater of war. It seems to me that this kind of dress is purely for the intimidation factor.

Police vehicle marketing image.
Policing by intimidation appears to be an increasingly disturbing trend throughout the country. Even regular police cruisers are being marketed as menacingly aggressive.

Why? Does anyone believe that the bad guys are being scared straight by all of this posturing? They're not. It's primarily serving to creep out decent folks who want to live in a safe and welcoming community--me included.

Hey Hayward, let's work to ensure that our police responses are always properly adequate without all the unnecessary bravado. Can we do that please?

No comments:

Post a Comment