Letters to the Editor
Retired DEA: Writer Misunderstands View of Police
As a retired Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA) with almost 30 years of law enforcement experience, I would like to respond to the op-ed entitled, “Police Brutality: Shoot First, Ask Later” from last week’s edition of the New University regarding police shootings.
Writer Hui-Ling Malone has described three tragic police shootings over the years in which three persons were killed that should not have died. The three shootings were cases of tragic mistakes. Yet, Malone paints these incidents as cases of vicious police murders with the implication that the police deliberately set out to take the life of someone because they were “black or brown,” as Malone puts it.
No matter how bad the Diallo, Alexander and Grant shootings were, they were not cases of cops deliberately gunning down people for the sheer joy of it, as Malone seems to imply. As for the racist implications that Malone makes, I would point out that most of the LAPD’s officers are either minorities or women, and it has had more accusations leveled against it than any other police department in the country.
During my DEA career, I was involved in three shooting incidents, one of which was a full-blown shootout. I can tell you that being in a shootout is not sport. It is a frightening experience. Our enforcement operations are carefully planned to avoid such incidents from happening. Yet, they occasionally do. Given the level of violent crime in our society and the violence associated with drug trafficking worldwide, it is a mystery as to why we don’t see more police-involved shootings than we do.
I can also tell you that I once came close to shooting a person who turned out to be an innocent bystander. It was during an undercover drug deal, which resulted in several arrests in a hotel. At the moment the arrests happened, every one of us thought that we had identified a suspect engaged in counter-surveillance in the lobby. When we approached him, he stood up and began to reach into a handbag he was carrying. Since I was right in front of him, I drew my weapon and pushed him back down into his chair. I sincerely believed at that moment that he was reaching for a gun, which he never had. Thank God I didn’t shoot because he turned out not to be involved in the drug deal. Had I shot that man, I would be living with it for the rest of my life, and surely would have been prosecuted. By the same token, had he been involved and reached for a gun, perhaps I would not be here writing this letter since I held my fire. These things can happen in the blink of an eye.
Malone further states that the cops “just get away with it,” which is false. The officers in the Diallo case in New York were prosecuted and acquitted on the jury’s conclusion that it was a tragic chain of events that led officers (erroneously) to think that Diallo had a gun and had already fired it. As we speak, the ex-officer who shot Oscar Grant is now facing charges.
If Malone wants to argue that more training is needed or hiring practices need to be refined to keep out rogue or racist cops, then that is fine. We all admit there are some bad apples. However, if Malone thinks that police deliberately set out to get involved in a shooting, he needs to actually experience what it is like to be a cop.
Gunless Students are Legally Defenseless on Campus
I am currently a student at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Your editorial entitled “Shooting Down Concealed Guns on Campuses” is the most ignorant thing I have ever read. Great idea, leave us legally defenseless against the thugs and gangbangers that “hang” in the areas surrounding the school. They are really going to pay attention to the law that states that they can’t have a gun on a school campus (that was typed with sarcasm). In case you are not aware, those people are criminals! They don’t care if they are breaking the law!
We recently had a shooting on our campus, and get this: it wasn’t one of the students doing the shooting! It was one of the local thugs that came onto our campus. That’s just one of the many criminal activities that happen monthly on our campus and many other campuses around this nation. Our university does have a police department, as does the surrounding area, but they cannot be everywhere at once. When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.
Little Rock, AR
Myths Persist About Concealed Weapons on Campuses
I’m not sure where the argument that the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) is encouraging people to carry guns at school is coming from, because their Web site clearly states that their goal is to dispel myths about the concealed carry of firearms on campus and to change state legislation to allow the concealed carry of firearms on campus.
The editorial, “Shooting Down Concealed Guns on Campuses,” also mentions that the group is using fear and violence to promote their cause. What exactly is the editorial board doing? Giving false promises of safety? SCCC, as well as other college-carry advocates, are merely pointing out that a licensed person has the right to carry a firearm in many places, including restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters and supermarkets, but a college campus is off limits?
Why is that? Oh yeah, schools are “inherently safe.” Like a few months ago when two armed men robbed some students. Or those cases of sexual assaults on campus? Well, some simple pepper spray might do the trick, especially if the assailant only has a razor-sharp knife or a gun. Or maybe the campus safety officer will protect us because there are so many of them to personally assure the safety of all students by escorting us to our cars. The last time I checked, any person can walk on to campus freely and nothing keeps a criminal from leaving his weapons or malicious intent at home.
Students can’t always rely on others for their personal safety. I’ve personally witnessed security guards running to hide when a person was attacked by multiple assailants in front of a supermarket.
The fear of a bloodbath is unwarranted. Many of the students in SCCC who promote the concealed carry of firearms on campus are the very same students who are already legally carrying their firearms while off campus.
Ask any criminal and they will assure you that they would prefer an unarmed victim over one who is potentially armed, especially with a gun.
Fifth-year Psychology Major