Cop or Soldier?

You decide.

How did I do?

I’m going to put in a break here so I don’t give away any spoilers, but I do have a couple of comments.

(more…)

Presented without comment

The policeman stood and faced his God, Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, policeman. How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek? To my church have you been true?”
The policeman squared his shoulders and said, “No Lord I guess I ain’t,
because those of us who carry badges can’t always be a Saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays, and at times my work was rough.
Sometimes I have been violent, because the streets are awfully tough.
But I never took a penny, that wasn’t mine to keep.
I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me, I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.
They never wanted me around except to calm their fear.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much, but if you don’t I’ll understand.”
There was a silence all around the throne Where the Saints had often trod.
As the policeman waited quietly for the judgment of his God.

“Step forward now, policeman, You’ve borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven’s streets You’ve done your time in Hell.”

Author: Unknown

Deriek W Crouse, VTPD

Deriek Wayne Crouse
August 17, 1972 – December 8, 2011

Fallen in the Line of Duty

R.I.P. – Officer Deriek W. Crouse, VTPD

The Virginia Tech press release (found at WDBJ7’s website – the Virginia Tech site is currently overloaded):

Virginia Tech Police have identified the officer murdered today during a traffic stop on campus as Deriek W. Crouse, 39, of Christiansburg. He joined the Virginia Tech Police Department on Oct. 27, 2007, and served in the patrol division. He is survived by his wife, five children and step-children, and his mother and brother.

He received his law enforcement certification on Feb. 12, 2008, from the Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy. Officer Crouse was trained as a Crisis Intervention Officer, General Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Defensive Tactics instructor and most recently completed training for Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response and Mechanical and Ballistic Instructor.

Officer Crouse was a member of the Virginia Tech Police Emergency Response Team since February 2011. He received an award in 2008 for his commitment to the department’s Driving Under the Influence efforts.
He formerly worked at the New River Valley Jail, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, and was a U.S. Army veteran.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at later date.

Deriek W Crouse, VTPD

Godspeed, Officer Crouse.

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[Source: WDBJ7 website, retrieved 12/8/11]

Short Update – Today’s Shooting at Virginia Tech

I’m now free from my other activities – those who have been following my blog and my comments elsewhere can probably guess what I was doing – and can give a short follow-up.

Here’s a quick summary of what happened, from my perspective and based on what I was able to determine with information from publicly available sources.

At around 1230 today, a Virginia Tech police car came past my office running emergently, and clearly responding to something, not simply pulling someone over. A second officer did the same thing a few seconds later. I didn’t think anything in particular, because it’s not unheard of, but it caught my interest, so I opened up the local internet scanner to see what was up. There’s about a 10-15 second delay from the radio transmission to it being streamed onto the net, so I was in time to hear the location and the words “officer down.” There was traffic about a “suspect vehicle”, so while the thought of a shooting did enter my head I was also considering the possibility of a traffic accident involving an officer. I still don’t know if it was an officer who had arrived on scene, or a dispatcher relaying information from the caller, but what I heard shortly afterward chilled my blood.

The downed officer had stopped someone and was writing a ticket when another person just walked up and shot him. The shooter then took off running, and his location at the time was unknown.

Even worse was the initial description of the suspect: A white male in a maroon hoodie and grey sweatpants with a backpack.

Virginia Tech’s colours are maroon and orange, and grey sweatpants are very common. It was like issuing a BOL for a white male in a red and white striped shirt with a red and white bobble hat and black glasses at a Where’s Waldo convention.

Shortly afterwards, there was a second description of the suspect given that did not match the original, including a report that he had a rifle. This caused speculation about the possibility a second suspect. As I noted in my original post, very early on there were reports of the second person down at the parking lot known as “the cage”. That single radio report that I heard indicated that the person down matched the original description, and had a handgun but no rifle. What followed over the next two hours or so was confusing to follow, but at at least one point included reports of shots fired in various locations that were too far apart for them to all be real if there was only one person involved. Each of these reports was checked and the locations secured. None of them were accurate. There was early speculation that he had gotten into a vehicle and fled, and a description and license plate number were given. I don’t know specifically what happened with that except that it was fairly quickly determined that he was in fact on foot, but I suspect it may have been the description of the vehicle the murdered officer had originally stopped. Things eventually settled into what sounded like a practiced and orderly search of campus and the buildings.

At my office, I immediately locked the doors and notified my coworkers once I realized what was going on. I also adjusted my sidearm from it’s usual “deep concealment” to an easier to access but still concealed position. We settled in to monitoring the situation through the internet scanner, twitter, facebook, and the local news websites. All reports put the shooter moving away from my office, but some of the shots fired reports were uncomfortably close. At about 1430, the boss (who was out of the office at the time) made the decision to send everyone home. As I was the only one at the office carrying at the time, I made sure I was the last one out and stayed in the parking lot watching until everyone else was in their cars and in motion before getting into my car to leave.

—–

From this point on, I was involved in activities that exposed me to some privileged information. At this point, I need to be able to look over the news reports to sort out what has been publicly released and what I learned through those activities that hasn’t been released, so I can’t really say much more. I will note that it was approximately 5-10 minutes, maybe as much as 15, from the time I became aware of the shooting to the time the campus alert sirens went off and the information appeared on the website. If you consider that the first officers needed to get there, find out that it’s a real report, find out from witnesses what happened and that the shooter was not there and still on the loose, relay that to dispatch, and for the dispatchers to do what they need to do to initiate the alert system, that 5-15 minutes is actually pretty reasonable (especially on the lower end).

I hate the “mainstream media”, with a passion. Especially once they reach the point of “we’ve told you everything that anyone knows for certain, now we’re just talking to fill airtime.” Wild speculation, blatantly stupid statements, misleading statements, blatantly wrong statements, idle chatter for hours on end, and repeating themselves for hours on end, just so they can avoid not talking about the killing for more than five seconds. They did the same thing on April 16, four years ago, and it infuriated me then, too.

It will take me a little while to get the rest of what I can and can’t say sorted out. To make things more complicated, I have a family funeral to go to tomorrow (not related, not unexpected, and a situation where it was probably a blessing for the deceased, but still a funeral for a loved one), and internet access at my parents’ house is spotty, so I’ll be mostly away from the ‘net until late Saturday.

It’s also going to take me a bit to get my head sorted out. I was here for April 16, and for the Morva manhunt. So… it’s just going to take a bit.

Stay safe, stay alert, and keep Virginia Tech in your thoughts and prayers.

END OF LINE

Yesterday’s odd situation

The full story (as currently reported) is here.

Dee Gardner said Gene “Bear” Hall was in his yard carrying the gun and wearing a bandolier filled with bullets over a black leather jacket.

When she turned around from the mailbox, Gardner said, the gun was pointed at her. Although Hall did not speak, “he had a cold stare on his face,” Gardner said.

Gardner walked back inside — “Lord, just let me make it to the steps,” she recalled thinking — and called 911.

When police showed up shortly after noon, Hall went back into the white, single-story house where he lives with his father — beginning a standoff that lasted through the afternoon.

It looks like, contrary to initial reports, there was a non-verbal, non-specific threat by the person with the gun, when he deliberately pointed it at a neighbor in a threatening manner. Additionally, there’s a felon-in-possession issue (which actually appears to be a felon-in-“possession”-simply-by-being-in-the-same-home-as-someone-who-owned-a-gun issue).

With these new facts, I will withdraw any criticism of the presence of SWAT. Someone brandished a weapon in a threatening manner, then essentially barricaded himself into his home and refused to come out and speak with the police who came to investigate. He created a situation where the level of danger to others was completely unknown. Did he have hostages? Family members he might hurt? Was he going to come out shooting? Was he just being a go tsao de idiot? The police had no way of knowing what was going on. Having SWAT on scene and immediately available was entirely appropriate.

Unless they can show the father actually picked up a weapon, or had one immediately under his control on his own initiative, the felon-in-possession charge should be dropped. What’s he supposed to do, run screaming from his son’s home as soon as he realizes there are unsecured guns there? Is the son supposed to give up his 2nd Amendment Rights just because he lives with his father who at one point broke the law? Ignoring for the moment the debate about whether or not felons should lose their Second Amendment Rights forever, the current implementation of felon-in-possession laws is just plain wrong. Under current interpretation, if the son kept every firearm either locked in a safe that the father had no access to or under his direct control, he would be fine. But if the son took one firearm out and left it on a table in another room, the father would have to immediately leave the home or he could be found guilty of a felony even if he didn’t know the gun was there.

Think about that. Guilty of a felony without even knowing the criminal act was occurring. Just. Plain. Wrong.

END OF LINE

[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 11/17/11]

Breaking News: An odd and developing situation

In Roanoke, Virginia.

From the WDBJ7 website:

The Roanoke Police Department is monitoring a situation on Wyoming Avenue.

The department’s spokesperson, Aisha Johnson, says there was a report of a man outside of that property with a firearm, and that he has since gone inside his home.

Johnson also says there is no information at this time that he has threatened anyone. […]

The SWAT team is on site.

and from the Roanoke Times:

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Roanoke police were called to Wyoming Avenue this afternoon after a man was spotted with a gun outside a house, spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said.

When officers arrived, he went back into the house, she said.

The police department’s new SWAT vehicle is now parked in front of a house on Wyoming with its blue lights flashing, and police are using the vehicle’s loudspeaker to communicate with someone inside the house, including providing a phone number for the person to call.

“You gotta call the number or come out with your hands up,” an officer said over the loudspeaker.

If all he did was step outside carrying a firearm, and then go back inside when the police showed up, then he doesn’t appear to have broken any laws. If that’s the case, then this would appear to be a massive overreaction on the part of the police.

It sounds to me like the police have some information they’re not releasing. If not, then the only call the gentleman should be making is to an attorney, because there is no cause for the police to hold him under siege, and no reason to bring out the SWAT toys.

In this case, I trust the police more than the media (and I believe the proper term for that statement is “damning with faint praise”). It will be interesting to see what the real story turns out to be. Is it “SWAT out of control”, or “media idiocy”?

END OF LINE

Update: From WDBJ7.

UPDATED 4:48 p.m.: One person has been taken out of the house.

Police are still on scene trying to get another person to come out of the house.

[Source: WDBJ7 News website, retrieved 11/16/11]
[Source: Roanoke Times website, retrieved 11/16/11]

(Note: Most of the category tags for this post are speculative. I don’t know what’s really going on at this point, and the people who do aren’t talking right now.)

Out training

I’m still around. I’m out of town at a statewide EMS training conference, right now. Interestingly, I walked by one of the Occupy [$SOMEPLACE] locations as the police were shutting down the camp (though I didn’t realize that was what was happening at the time). There was a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio of cops to protesters.

I’ll have more later (it could be a day or two or three). Right now there’s a group getting together for dinner, and I’m hungry.

END OF LINE

Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?

Cemetery, of Cemetery’s Gun Blob*, recently had his car searched by the police based on a police dog “alerting” to a scent.

Bring on the dog then I said, was told ok, but if the dog gets to happy, it’s too bad about any potential damage.

Nice right? Do what we want or your car gets trashed basically.

Out comes the dog, a male German Shepard, who don’t give two shits about my car. And anybody with a brain could tell he was just happy to get some fresh air and chase some squirrels.

So of course the LEO says the dog likes my car, and now comes the fun.

They didn’t give two shits about the guns, they just wanted to search for narcotics.

This reminded me of a damning article I found a couple of months ago regarding drug dogs giving false positives.

The results? Dog/handler teams correctly completed a search with no alerts in just 21 of the 144 walk-throughs. The other 123 searches produced an astounding 225 alerts, every one of them false. Even more interesting, [the search points designed to trick the handlers (marked by the red slips of paper) ]were about twice as likely to trigger false alerts as the search points designed to trick the dogs (by luring them with sausages).

emphasis mine – Jake

That study got false positives in 84% of the searches. What makes this truly disturbing is that the use of drug dogs to get probable cause for a warrantless search has become routine across the country, and the courts in most states have ruled that this is acceptable. We can see from the results of this study that the dogs are picking up on the handler’s expectations or desires and giving false alerts

In other words, the dogs are not reliable for what they are being used for, and a dog’s alert should not be sufficient on its own to constitute probable cause for a search. This practice needs to be ended, now.

END OF LINE

[Source: Post at Cemetery’s Gun Blob, retrieved 11/3/11]
[Source: Article from The Economist, published 2/15/11, retrieved 11/3/11]

(h/t Weer’d Beard)

*Added to the blogroll as of today.

The American Gestapo is here.

TSA conducting random vehicle searches in Tennessee.

Via Oleg Volk. More commentary later, when I’m not trying to post from my phone.

—–

Update: Maybe not today,though. I’m still letting this percolate in my head as I try to figure out what I want to commit to pixels.

(h/t SayUncle)

Who needs a gun on campus? – Armed robber at large

Virginia Tech sent out a crime alert this morning.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 5, 2011 – 7:54 a.m. update: CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS NOTICE The victim of this crime was confronted by the suspect at the 1300 block of Mary Jane Circle, not the Math Emporium parking lot.

7:30 a.m. update : Blacksburg Police reported that on Wednesday morning, Oct. 5, 2011, at approximately 4 a.m., a woman was leaving the Math Emporium (off of University City Boulevard) headed toward her vehicle when a man approached her with a hand gun. The perpetrator demanded that she take him to multiple ATM locations to withdraw money. The victim was released unharmed in the area of Tom’s Creek Road and Patrick Henry Drive in Blacksburg where he was last seen at approximately 5a.m.

The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5 foot, 4 inches tall, and wearing a black coat and white scarf. The Blacksburg and Virginia Tech Police departments have been searching the area where the subject was last seen, University City Boulevard where the incident began.

Please be aware of your surrounding and if you see anyone matching this description please call the Blacksburg Police Department 540-961-1150, Virginia Tech Police Department 540-231-6411, or 911.

The Math Emporium is off-campus, but is still Virginia Tech property and therefore falls under the university’s gun-free victim disarmament policy. As we all know, such policies extend beyond the property they are intended to ‘protect’ to disarm people as they travel to and from that property as well.

Hokies, be extra careful, and be aware! Remember, just because you cooperate does not mean he won’t decide to kill you anyway! Whether the money is worth your life is a decision he has already made.

END OF LINE

[Source: Virginia Tech Crime Alert, retrieved 5/10/11 @ 0830]

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