Driving to the Sound of Gunfire
Dec. 11, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — We talk a lot about police accountability, and we should. There are police officers who should not be police officers, who make mistakes, who should be brought to the bar and face criminal liability. Who should be fired and prosecuted.
Sometimes we focus so much on these bad officers that we forget the good officers. Most officers fit into this category. These officers run to the sound of gunfire, go into dangerous buildings, and put themselves in between the general public and evil. They do so willingly.
In the terrorist incident in San Bernardino, Detective Jorge Lozano exemplified that type of good officer. He was there to get people out of the danger area, and there was a child in front of him, shaking like a leaf and terrified. So Jorge said something to reassure him, that was caught on tape:
“Try to relax everyone, try to relax, I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure….”
Think about this for a minute. We bitch and moan all the time that the police follow the “First Rule of Policing,” yet forget that they also go into danger to protect others. They do so willingly, without reservation. They know that they could get shot, that they could get killed, yet they go anyway. And they will take a bullet for you. Lozano doesn’t think of himself as a hero for that,
“That’s our job to put ourselves in the line [of fire].”
In the same incident, Officer Nicholas Koahou was shot stopping the rampage of the killers. Koahou was running up to help a deputy where Farook and Malik had been stopped. Farook was already shot and was prone on the roadway. Malik shot Koahou, a former Marine, in the leg and he went down. Showing the type of character needed in this situation, Koahou got back on his feet, determined to continue the fight if necessary.
This isn’t something that is new. There is example after example of this through the years.
- Deputy Jennifer Fulford-Salvano, in Florida, put herself between two children and two armed home invaders, taking 10 rounds, including one to her shooting hand, before she took out the bad guys.
- Officer Marcus Young, in California, was making an arrest when the arrestee’s boyfriend, Neal Beckham, attacked him, shooting him five times with a .38 snub nose. Beckham then stabbed the store security guard who jumped in to help, and Beckham then ran to Young’s squad car to get either the shotgun or the rifle that was in the car. Young, his shooting arm useless and his left hand injured, could not draw his gun and had the 17-year-old police cadet who was with him, draw his gun and put it in his left hand. Young then fired four shots and killed Beckham. The cadet, Julian Cordova, is now a deputy sheriff.
Officers respond to help civilians and they respond to help other officers. In the first three years of my police career, I worked in the housing projects of a major city, with all of the attendant problems. During that time, we put out several “assist officer” calls, and other officers dropped what they were doing to come help us. Every single time. I did the same when I heard a call for help, whether from an officer or not.
When that happens, you do everything you can to get there and help. Some times you get there, sometimes you don’t. But every single time you go. It doesn’t matter what you think about the call, someone needs help, so you go. I remember a young officer at my department drove up on the scene of a double homicide, with the shooter standing there with the smoking gun literally still in his hand. The officer could have legally shot the guy and been completely justified, but instead he took him into custody.
Some officers criticized the decision not to shoot, but most did not. They praised him and held him out as an example of how a good officer should behave.
You see, that young officer drove to the sound of gunfire.
He did it to help others, and he managed to do his job without killing someone.
Most officers respond to active shooting calls the same way. I don’t know Jorge Lozano, but I know many officers like him. Most are like that.
We should remember that the next time we think about officers that mess up and need to be held accountable. Those are the exception, and not the rule.