Yesterday, Talk of the Sound reported, New Rochelle Police Draw Guns on Black Youths Over Snow Ball Fight NSFW. This took place in New Rochelle, NY — a town of about 80,000 people just north of New York City. In the video that I embedded below, a police officer seems to be detaining and searching two men who were having a snowball fight. But he does so at gunpoint. According to some sources, the police had been called because of a report of someone with a gun. It’s possible, but it sounds more likely to be a justification after the fact.
What I wonder is how this can possibly be correct procedure. The officer walks up to one man who is knelling on the ground. He is holding his pistol in one hand and searching the man with the other hand. If the man on the ground had been so inclined, he could have grabbed the officer’s weapon. Guns are not an especially good weapon up this close. And then, after searching the first man, he walks to the second — leaving him prone to the first man. If these had actually been dangerous men, the foul mouthed officer could have been taken down or even killed.
According to Talk of the Sound, this was not some inexperienced officer. They are not providing the name of him at this time, but they did report, “We will say that he is a Superior Officer (i.e., Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain)…” Of course, I’ve never particularly bought into the whole idea that our policing problems are due to a lack of experience and training. There are bigger problems — particularly the culture of police departments. One thing is very clear in this video: the officer is not there to serve. He’s there to bully everyone.
So I think that the officer knows this is not a case where dangerous men are running around with guns. If he did, he would have responded in a different way. He would have put his gun away and called the other officers in a bit closer. My best guess — from years of interacting with police officers — was that it was an exciting opportunity. Two young black men were having a snowball fight, so he brought his car to a sudden stop and jumped out of the car. When the young men didn’t immediately respond to him, he drew his gun. Or he drew his gun immediately. And later that night when he went home, he told his wife about what a dangerous job he has.
Another interesting thing in the video is that the officer repeatedly looks toward the camera. He actually seems a whole lot more concerned about it than he is about the lawless snowball fighters. And I suspect that it is the presence of the camera that caused the whole thing to be resolved so quickly and amicably. It’s possible by that point, the officer realized that he looked like a total jerk. But I’m not sure shame is something that many officers allow themselves to feel.
Ultimately, this is as good an example of the problem with our policing that you will find. Why was it necessary for the officer to draw his gun? It clearly wasn’t. But as I’ve written too much around here, police have convinced themselves that their jobs are really dangerous, when they are not. And as a result, police officers tend to be pussies who would rather kill innocent children than risk the slightest threat to themselves. In this case, everything worked out well. But pulling a gun is dangerous, and should be a last resort, not de rigueur.
Update 3 February 2015 9:40 am
The Daily News reported, Video Showing New Rochelle Police Officer Pulling Gun on Teens Not What It Seems: Cops. According to them, when they showed up, one person put something in his waistband and ran. The other officer chased him, but didn’t catch him. I’m not sure what to make of that. Regardless, why was it necessary to hold a gun on the people who did not run? Why was the officer yelling obscenities at the young men when they were already on the ground with their hands in the air? And why did the officer search them with his gun still drawn? I am more convinced than ever that this is a great example of a badly trained police officer with a chip on his shoulder.