Police Reform


Welcome back to the scuttlebutt.


Look, seriously, I would love to get back to doing pieces on Navy shit and Nerdy shit, and Science Fiction.  But we’re still in lockdown, there are no movies being released, and everywhere I turn, there are fools, saying foolish shit, so here we are.


I’ve made no secret of the fact that once upon a time, I wore a badge for a while.   The Cop game has changed a little since I went through BLEA and WSCA, but not that much. So, let’s talk about copping, the good the bad and the ugly.


I hear a lot about variations on either “defund” the Police, or “abolish” the Police.  I read something the other day where some nimrod was claiming that Police were created as “slave catchers” in the old south…


Seriously, folks, this is the price you pay for having gotten rid of History and Civics in your schools.  I mean, What the Actual Fuck?  Police have been around, in one form or another since the Roman Empire.  Now in Rome, it was soldiers doing the job, and that’s a bad idea, cops regulate human behavior, the military kills people and blows shit up! Never the twain should meet.


Here’s the thing: In any given civilization, there is a small percentage of people that refuse to abide by the laws of society.  One way or another you either deal with that percentage as a civilization, or you will deal with them as individuals.  Now I’m fairly well equipped to do that, but most folks aren’t.  Unless you like the thought of living in Mogadishu, where might really does mean right, you need some sorts of cops… Hell even the ISIS boys have police, and you DO NOT want to go that route. (though it looks like Minneapolis and part of Seattle are going to give that a try…)


Look, let’s talk about real police reform.  First, let us look at the “Justice in Policing Act” proposed by the Democrats in congress.  Among the reforms are: 

Requiring all uniformed federal law enforcement officers to wear body cameras; 

Requiring the use of de-escalation techniques;

Requiring the use of deadly force only as a last resort; 

Requiring all federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras;

Tasking the Government Accountability Office with launching an investigation into federal officers’ training, vehicle pursuits, and use of force;

Banning the use of chokeholds and similar tactics to restrain individuals they are detaining;

Requiring bias and “duty to intervene” training for all federal officers;

Banning the use of “no-knock” warrants in federal drug cases; and,

Changing federal personnel’s use of force standard from when it is “reasonable” to when it is “necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.” 


This is a real mixed bag.  There are a few good ideas in there, and a whole mess of bad ones, so let’s take a look.


Cameras; for uniforms, I don’t have a problem with this, with the exception that it’s going to really fuck up the CI (confidential informant) game.  What rat is going to squeal when they know they’re on camera? For detectives, this is a bad idea, but they limited it to uniforms.  They did however add that all federal vehicles have them, and again, if it’s a detective vehicle, that’s pretty stupid.  Do you want to bust an undercover operation? Because that’s how you do it.


Requiring the use of de-escalation?  Excuse me? Isn’t that ALREADY required? It sure was where I wore a uniform.  What the fuck?


Requiring that “deadly force” be only a last resort??? UH, That’s been the standard for 40 years for fuck’s sake.


The GAO thing is showboating, pure, and simple.  It’s “let’s have a media circus, because election time is coming up, and if we can be holding hearings we look stateman like.”  Great sound and bluster, accomplishing nothing.


Banning the use of chokeholds? Well, I’m of mixed emotions on that.  The way that asshat in Minn. performed was a complete screwup.  But banning the tactic all together is either going to get cops killed, or jailed.


Requiring bias and “Duty to Intervene?”  YES.  Again, that’s already required in WA, what happened to the rest of the country?


No-Knocks?  Banning them goes too far.


Use of force change from “reasonable” to “necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury”? Uh only if you want to let every criminal no matter what he did, or how violent he was getaway if he runs faster than the cop with 50 lbs of shit on.


So, let us talk about the “Lehman Plan” ©. 


First, abolish Law enforcement unions.  They once probably served a purpose, but their only reason to exist now is self-perpetuation, increasing their power, and protecting cops that frankly don’t deserve it. 


That ass hat in Minn. had 20 violence charges in 19 years, and yet was a Field Training Officer for Gods’ sakes.  (it’s worth noting that the other three officers involved had less than a week on the streets, he was their FTO.  SO, while they should have stopped his ass, imagine telling your Drill Instructor that he shouldn’t mash that recruit when you are yourself a boot…Yeah, that shit doesn’t happen.  One of the kids reportedly told him he was going too far, only to be shouted down.)  Without unions you can fire the guy the minute he shows shitty judgment in the field, and you can tell the next agency WHY you fired him… That alone will get rid of most of your problems.


Second abolish the legal doctrine of Qualified Immunity.  The state should have no powers not invested in a private citizen, and the idea that a cop is above the law is ludicrous on its face.


Third, all uniformed officers will wear cameras at all times on duty, and if they are turning them off for ANY reason, they WILL be required to write a “Use of Force” statement on WHY.  Falsification or lack of candor will be a firing offense, and may also get you jail time.


Fourth, requalify choke-holds and similar tactics as Less Lethal Deadly Force, more on this later.


Fifth, yes, by all means train in Duty to Intervene, you can use the Military “Legal Order” training as a model.


Sixth, limit severely the use of No knocks, require that only a limited number of judges be authorized to sign them, and the first time one is issued without reasonable cause, as determined in later trial, that JUDGE loses the authority to issue any warrant.


Let’s talk about the “use of force” for a second.  (this comes as point seven) I also have seen demands that the PD (especially here in the Pathetic North Wet) lose the use of impact weapons and chemical agents from their Use of Force… 

You want more dead people? Hey! ASSHOLE! THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE DEAD PEOPLE.  


The use of force continuum is quite clear. 

  1. Physical presence. (just being there in uniform, scowling at an asshat about to do wrong) 
  2. Verbal command: “you there, what the hell do you think you’re doing? STOP THAT and come here.”
  3. Hands on: this is grabbing the guy, to include pressure points, compliance holds (Hapkido stuff) it does not yet include strikes.
  4. Strikes with hands or other body parts.
  5. Pepper spray.  (note, 5-6 are of equal position, it’s cops choice, depending on which will do less damage to bystanders)
  6. Baton, or other impact weapons on soft tissue. (nerve clusters, belly, No major joints, no head)
  7. Taser. 
  8. Less lethal deadly force (this is impacts to major joints,  bean bag rounds, etc. It does not include chokeholds, but it should.) 
  9. Lethal Force: shoot the fucker, stab the fucker, strike him with your car, hit him in the head with your maglight… Things which you know or should know, stand a significant risk of death or permanent bodily harm, it’s use is a last choice, when all lesser means have failed or can not reasonably be employed, and may only be used to stop a violent crime in progress, in the obedience of a lawful order, to stop a fleeing felon, or to protect your life or the life of another.


Now go up and read that part about when you can use Lethal Force again.  When all lesser means have failed or can not reasonably be employed.  Part of that means, if they’re coming at you with a knife, hey, lesser means can’t be reasonably employed… Dude wants to punch your ticket! That means you must punch his first or you’re “end of shift” is NOW.  


But there’s another piece here.  If you take away #5,6, and 8, what is left?  You grab the guy, because he won’t stop beating the store clerk, he punches you, you punch back, and he looks at you and grins… well, in my day, you popped out your asp, and grinned back, or you broke out your pepper spray and grinned back.   Oh but we took those off your belt, didn’t we?  All you have left is a Taser and a gun.  If the Taser doesn’t work on the guy… Rodney King, paging Rodney King… well dogpiling the guy is out, impact is out, I guess you shoot his ass.  This, RIGHT HERE is why we need all the options possible.


OK, let’s continue: 

Seventh, quit giving jobs to cops that are not their job!  There are SO many things that a cop is required to keep up on, from changes in the laws, and statutes (which in WA alone takes up a manual 7 inches thick in small print) to case law, to every open warrant and stolen car given out at lineup, the layout of his city (this alone can be a bitch if you aren’t blessed with living in a regular grid layout… In Bremerton, streets stop and start up again on the other side of parks or bodies of water, or some guys field that didn’t want to sell…) 


So, with all that to keep straight and at the forefront of your mind, you also are supposed to be a mental health worker, a social worker, a substance abuse counselor, and the list goes on. 


If there’s a crazy woman on the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk, screaming at pedestrians, it’s a cop call, a man on the corner throwing poo at cars? Cop call.  Dude screaming at his wife in public? Cop call. 


Well not under the “Lehman system.”  We get a group, the number to be determined, of either social workers, mental health counselors, or F.D. EMTs cross-trained to do that job, and we roll one of them, with the cop as the “cover officer” who’s only job is to keep the mental health professional SAFE, and to put the Habeas Grabbeas on the EDP if they attack the mental health professional or someone else.


Eighth, severely limit the amount of military gear the cops get.  The military ain’t the cops and vice versa. I understand and embrace that there’s a time for Military gear and tactics, but in the ten years I was on the force, I only saw one. (hostage situation by a trained soldier who had tripped offline and was fully equipped.)  Every agency thinks they have to be prepared for the Hollywood bank robbery shoot out.  County agencies should have one group that they can get on scene in fifteen minutes, and other than that, unless you’re a BIG city, you just don’t need that sort of shit. If you have it, you will get the urge to use it.


Ninth, go back to beat cops.  This is what is meant by the “Community Policing Strategy” aka COPS.  Have the same guy on the same two-mile square beat, every day, get him to know the people, and vice versa.  That right there is HUGE.


And finally: 

Tenth, do away with Plea Bargains. When 97% of Federal Cases and 85-95% of are pled out, the Prosecutors are NOT doing their job, they’re campaigning for reelection.  Prosecutors run on conviction rates, and sadly your average voter doesn’t see any further than “I have a 98% conviction rate, I’m tough on crime, re-elect me!”  


The truth is: that rate is achieved by “catching a frequent flyer a block from a house, 3 minutes after the alarm goes off, with burglary tools that match the signs of forced entry exactly, and items in his possession that were stolen from the house, and plea bargaining down from Burglary 1 (class A felony) to Possession of Stolen Goods (gross misdemeanor).”  But then finding some guy that’s NEVER been in the system, and threatening him with two years behind bars because his dog got out and scared the neighbor…


This whole thing makes the system what it is.  The guys that are in and out so often they know all the jail staff by first name play the game and are again in and out, and the guy that has NOT been institutionalized gets screwed.  It colors the perceptions of everyone in the system, and not in good ways.  It’s got to go.  Write a Reasonable Charge, and take it to trial.  That will mean you’ll need more judges, but so be it.


Well this has gotten stupidly long, and I haven’t even touched on the idiots that have declared an “Autonomous Zone” in the Capitol Hill District of Seattle, so I’ll leave that for another day. Keep your head on a swivel, it’s stupid out, and the stupid don’t look to end soon. 


Until next time I remain,

Yours in service.

William Lehman.


  1. As a layman this all seems reasonable and sensible except:

    Lethal Force: shoot the fucker . . . significant risk of death or permanent bodily harm, it’s use is a last choice, when all lesser means have failed or can not reasonably be employed . . . to stop a fleeing felon

    That really stands out. It seems in a different league to “stop a violent crime in progress . . . or to protect your life or the life of another”. It seems like an Officer Donut can just shoot some kid running away because he’s out of breath. If so, that doesn’t seem much different from an Officer Asshat keeping his knee on a suspect’s neck for nine minutes in case he struggles some more.

  2. Mr. Lehman,
    First of all, I would like to sincerely compliment you on the most common sense, a.k.a. grounded in reality, and well presented article I have seen on this topic. That said, I don’t spend a lot of time reading or researching these things so my compliment may be somewhat akin to an old redneck (me) commenting on opera. Still and all, it made sense to me and seemed eminently reasonable.

    The one area that I think might merit some consideration on your part is with regard to your endorsement of lethal force “to stop a fleeing felon”. Mind you, I am not saying you are wrong. I am saying that I would like for you to consider that endorsement in light of your tenth point about plea bargains and unreasonable charges. I am saying that I would like to hear your thoughts on that precisely because I find everything else in your article to be intelligent and reasonable.

    There are actually several — I’ll call them “issues” though “circumstances that merit consideration” would probably be closer to what I really mean — that I see with employing lethal force to stop a fleeing felon. All of them, however, are variations on a theme — namely that “felon” may simply be too broad of a standard to use when determining the legitimacy…the reasonableness… of using lethal force to stop someone in that category solely because they are running from the police. Firstly, as you noted in your tenth point, it is simply all too easy to become a “felon”. Secondly, someone may be a “felon” for a number of different types of crimes, many of which do not involve violence or even destruction of property. Would it, for example, be ok for a cop to employ lethal force because someone convicted of say, embezzlement, was fleeing a bar fight? Thirdly, felons are felons for life. Would it be ok to use lethal force on a “fleeing” suspect who was convicted say, 30 years ago? I’ll stop there but I am fairly certain you see my point.

    It strikes me that whether a cop knew, when he/she chose to use lethal force, that the subject was a felon, should also be a consideration.

    Finally, there is the issue of just plain stupid laws. And I have absolutely no idea what to do about that. I will, however, give you a somewhat comical example from my own life. I should note that, although I referred to this as comical, I doubt very seriously that the person involved feels that way at all.

    I used to work for a company that owned large apartment complexes. We had one in Florida where it had come to light that one of our residents was a registered sex offender (idk if he was a “felon” or not but the distinction is not material to my point). It was not clear if we could, or even should, do anything legally. But it was, obviously, something we were concerned about. What made it even more… I don’t know… complicated… was the fact that the guy was one of our best tenants! He was liked and respected by our staff and other tenants alike! But he was a registered sex offender. That’s a big deal to most folks…especially folks who are renting apartments! But the whole thing just became laughable one day. That was over 10 years ago and I’m chuckling now. Why? Well, it turned out that his big sex offense was that somewhere up north like Connecticut or something…20 or 30 years ago… he peed on a tree… and apparently caused some old lady to clutch her pearls and swoon. Anyway, the point, obviously, is that it would be nice if the labels would actually fit the crime.

    I know you probably get a lot of mail, etc. but I sincerely hope you can and will reply…if only to tell me what I’m missing.

    And, BTW, many a person from the left coast has found a home in East Tennessee.

    Mark Schmid

    • OK, so let me help you guys out here. The “fleeing felon” rule is often misunderstood, by someone who hasn’t been trained and had it drilled into them. Joey Bagadoughnuts Sees Officer Krupsky and hauls ass.
      “fleeing felon?” NO. Officer Krupsky doesn’t have probable cause or even reasonable suspicion that Joey did anything illegal. Now might Krupsky chase after him to ask why he ran? MAYBE. It depends on the totality of the circumstance and would need to be articulated in a court of law.
      OK, so, let us say Krupsky knows Joey. He’s a frequent flyer, with a rap sheet longer than my RV. He’s a DOC (Department of Corrections) former client, which means that he is a “felon”.
      Can Krupsky shoot him yet? NO. The “fleeing felon” rule is for ACTIVE FELONIES.
      Now, let’s make it a little messier.
      Krupsky is responding to a silent alarm. Joey is standing on the sidewalk, Krupsky knows Joey is a DOC former client, and Joey rabbits. Let me save you the trouble, NO he still can’t shoot him. Why? 1) still doesn’t have reasonable suspicion or probable cause. 2) hasn’t attempted lesser means.
      Next, Krupsky responding to silent alarm as before, as he pulls up, he finds Joey standing over the store clerk with a ball-bat in his hands. The clerk is bleeding from the head, and there’s blood on the ball-bat. Joey sees Krupsky and drops the bat, then rabbits.
      NOW can Krupsky shoot him? Still NO! the rule for deadly force starts with the “when all lesser means have failed or can not reasonably be employed.” Krupsky hasn’t tried ANY lesser means other than “Physical Presence”
      OK! Final scenario.
      Krupsky, responding to the silent alarm, finds Joey standing over the clerk, as before. The clerk says “that’s the guy officer”. Joey drops the bat and bags ass, with $20s falling out of his jeans. Krupsky shouts “STOP! POLICE! You’re under arrest Joey!” ”
      Joey shouts back “Catch me pig!”
      Krupsky gives chase. Joey gets on a dirt Bike parked behind the store and fires it up as Krupsky comes around the corner. Joey heads right for Krupsky at approximately 45 miles an hour. NOW can Krupsky shoot him???
      Answer “it depends.” Is it safe? are there other people in the area that might take a round? Do we know where Joey is going, and can we just pick him up at his mommies house later? You, officer Krupsky have .05 seconds to decide the answers to those questions and several more.
      If it’s safe, if it’s within your department’s “Use of force” SOP (some departments have more restrictive SOPs on fleeing felon, others less) If it’s articulable and justifiable, (let’s say Joey is a major flight risk, we don’t know where he hangs, and his priors are all violent crimes against persons, or he’s aiming that dirt bike right at Krupsky, which kicks self-defense into the mix) NOW, Krupsky can shoot him.
      Krupsky is then required to immediately start first aid, after cuffing Joey, and call for assistance “shots fired, suspect down, suspect in custody, the scene is safe”.
      Krupsky will immediately be put on leave status while the department does an investigation (in the Lehman Plan, a Special statewide department of specially trained, and really squeaky clean LEOs that JUST do Police investigations for the state would handle ALL use of force investigations at “level 8, less-lethal deadly force” and above.) And Krupsky gets to experience the other side of Law enforcement until the investigation determines it was a lawful use of force. Note, with the exception of the stuff about the Lehman plan, that’s what happens NOW. The “rules for deadly force” don’t live in a vacuum. Those rules are “if you don’t meet all these wickets, you can’t even point a gun AT the suspect.” They are what the Supreme Court calls “bright line” rules. After you meet all of those wickets, then you have to consider everything else before you pull the trigger.

      On the “Just plain silly laws” part, see my answer to Mark Leigh, below.

  3. About the best proposal I’ve seen. There is though one consideration that is left out of every analysis I have seen. Why is it that every whim of the political class is enforced by the official dispensers of force and violence? There is no law so trivial that deadly force will not be used to enforce it. The mass of impositions and regulations the police are charged with enforcing puts them in direct conflict with much of the population. Most obvious are the vice laws drugs, prostitution, cigarette smoking and so on. Not only does policing victimless crimes cost time and money and take away from proper policing it renders the policeman into an enemy of the people.

  4. I’m glad you asked that.
    First, let’s take something you were taught in civics class and stand it on its head. Who makes the laws? “Why our congress, state congress, and local city or county government does”, you answer.
    Not QUITE. They write the laws, yes. But the DA really determines what laws are going to be ENFORCED, by what he will charge. If he decides that “that’s silly, and I’m not going to charge on that!” and sends a memo to the local PD to that effect… Guess what, cops don’t arrest people for that, because they don’t want to waste their time.

    Now, let’s talk about the phrase “whims of the political class” for a second. This also lends to the question above about “just plain silly laws”. Folks, the cops have and should have only a limited option in what they enforce. Mark, it sounds like you think the cops should get to decide what laws they enforce… that way lies “Judge Dredd”. The police, like the military, need Civilian government direction. That’s a BASIC of our system and nation. The elected government knows or SHOULD know, that any law passed, at the end of the day, might end up getting someone killed for breaking it. Law is force, pure and simple. It should be the minimum necessary to achieve the desires of society, but it is force.

    Here’s the thing people. “The political class” works for YOU. (and me, and every other voter) If they aren’t doing what you want them to do, VOTE THEM THE FUCK OUT. Mostly, when a law is passed that involves criminality or a criminal penalty, one of two things caused the law to spring into being. Let us take the easy one first.

    -Revenue stream. IE the money to run the government. Any time the Revenue stream is threatened, a law is passed. People are selling singletons on the street corner, and the City isn’t getting their dime? Pass a law! People are preserving their excess grain by making it into whiskey and not paying a tax on it? Pass a law, cause a rebellion, which ends with G. Washington leading federal troops in response to “The Whiskey Rebellion”. (YES it really happened.) You don’t LIKE that? see comments for the second item.

    -Their Constituents bitch. Here’s the thing. Most laws involving criminality are created because someone, maybe a good person, maybe a Karren with too much time on her hands, and a deep and abiding fear that someone somewhere may be doing something that offends her, raises enough of a stink that the lazy, yet politically adroit politicians WE elect feel that they “NEED TO BE SEEN TO BE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM”. Usually, in a great big hairy hurry, and usually without proper time, consideration, and consultation. This is how bad laws get written. This is how laws on gambling, and vaping, and alcohol, and dancing and… all came into being at one point or another.

    People, if you have a problem with “stupid laws”, don’t take it to the cops, they’re powerless. That’s like pitching a fit at the clerk behind the counter because gas is expensive. Not only is it stupid, but it’s also counterproductive. If you have a problem with stupid laws, you have two major options:

    1) Be squeaky clean and develop “standing”. Think Rosa Parks here. If there’s a law that is not IAW the rest of law, or the constitution, make sure that you would be a GOOD trial case (IE Don’t be a multi-term felon with Fentanyl and Meth in your bloodstream or a “sovereign citizen” type that’s tried to sue the state against having to have a drivers license to drive on city streets.) make sure you have the backing of someone with deep pockets (NRA, NAACP, ACLU…) and get arrested for violating the law! Take it to court and put the law on trial. Yes, it happens, more often than you might think, and it’s how you get the state SC or the SCOTUS to say “this law is illegal, remove it from the books.”

    2) Get politically active. Start a campaign, start a committee, raise your voice. Be “that guy” at the city council meetings. Think of the Norman Rockwell painting of the Farmer with his hat in his hands standing up and talking back to the suits in the front of the room. Be “Mister Smith” as in “Mister Smith Goes to Washington”. Do you belong to a PAC? I belong to several, NRA has a PAC, the Federal Managers Assoc. is a PAC, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a PAC, and so on… get active, get your organization to raise a ruckus. If Karren can demand that we stop letting our clean-limbed young fighting men be destroyed by that demon RUM, and get a constitutional amendment, you can get active and get it repealed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formPost comment