The decision by district attorney Neal Pinkston on Oct. 4 to not prosecute officers David Campbell and Jeff Rahn no doubt is met with relief among police coworkers of these two men.
There will be no action by Mr. Pinkston for what these officers’ victims say is a crime, his spokeswoman says by text message.
By David Tulis / AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio
In May the officers harassed and arrested two residents of Chattanooga without probable cause. My investigation of these cases indicates these people are victims of perjury, violations of the oppression statute, civil rights intimidation and state kidnapping.
The criminal case against Hanson Melvin was dismissed after he was indicted based on a perjured police report for “disorderly conduct.” The grand jury issued a no true bill in a disorderly conduct charge against Rochelle Gelpin. Both live in Northgate Crossing Apartments in Hixson.
How should fellow officers view their callings and duty in light of the escape of these two public protectors in blue from criminal charges? Have they done likewise against innocent civilians?
Is there a way cops can refresh their understanding of their jobs with an eye to avoiding the sins and errors of Messrs. Rahn and Campbell?
Peacekeepers vs. law enforcers
To start, I suggest officers remember their oaths before God to uphold constitutionally protected rights. They swore to the creator of heaven and earth that they would respect the rights, privileges and property of the people of the city, even people of a different color and a lower socioeconomic class.
Though police rose in the progressive era to oppress and control the population, officers in Chattanooga invoke God’s holy name promising to obey the law that limits their use of force against people’s rights — that being their constitutional protections.
God should prick their consciences through their oaths. That is a work of remembrance and grace. They should not shut down His voice as heard through His commandments.
➤ “Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ So he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’” Luke 3:14
➤ “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” Proverbs 14:31
➤ “But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?” James 2:6
➤ “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” Proverbs 21:13
➤ “If you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” Jeremiah 7:6, 7
Only evildoers are to be oppressed and, and innocent private people to be let alone.
Officers should respectfully speak to people. If they constrain, stop or question someone, they should smile, because a smile (even a forced one) tends to form one’s will favorable to others. They should never view any member of the public as trash, niggers, crooks, conmen, opportunists, or gangsters, unindicted co-conspirators or guilty. They should avoid the temptation to use personal hatreds, pique or animosity as a motivator to charge someone under the vague disorderly conduct statute or any other rule, absent probable cause.
They should really believe the idealistic nostrum in mind when they entered the police force. And that is if they are to maintain the peace first and enforce laws secondarily, using their discretion for the greater good.
They should not allow themselves to take part in the “shoot first and think later” perspective damned by Justice Sotomayor in her dissent in Mullinex vs. Luna, a police execution case decided November 2015
Enlarging the ideal
They should enlarge in their minds that humanity of members of the public they encounter. They should shrink in the impersonal and anonymous state interest that they represent. This state interest is one of oppression, subjugation of the people, one of commercial imperialism by the state into the private lives of innocent, private people.
Holding high the ideals of genuine public peace and genuine public order, the officer should place first the personal safety of members of the public. He need not be enslaved as the state seems to demand.
Disarmament of mind
Having this frame of mind, the officer would never kill a woman walking toward him, ranting, with surgical scissors in her hands. He would not kill a disheveled minority man kicking about near him with a spoon in his hand. He would not, under the pretext of fearing for his life, kill a homeowner filming him with a black wireless phone. He would not taze a person’s face through a tiny gap in a window at a traffic stop.
To reach this state of mind he has to disregard much of his training, which turns self-protection into a religious mantra. Police training emphasizes being first to fire, that “complacency kills,” that the cop has a duty to return home at night, that it’s better to be “judged by 12 than carried by six.”
Cops shoot because they are trained to see threats and react to them. “Violent attacks on officers, particularly those that involve a serious physical threat, are few and far between when you take into account the fact that police officers interact with civilians about 63 million times every year,” says Seth Stouton in Atlantic Monthly. “In percentage terms, officers were assaulted in about 0.09 percent of all interactions, were injured in some way in 0.02 percent of interactions, and were feloniously killed in 0.00008 percent of interactions.”
Godly calling — possibly
Reaching for his weapon should be the last thing the officer does. He should care more about avoiding the killing of an innocent person than he does his own life. Better he be lawlessly slain than that he lawlessly slay an innocent person who is committed no capital offense.
Despite training which forces him to view every encounter as a potentially lethal one, he should be willing to lay down his life for an innocent person, as the Lord Jesus laid down His life for His people. He should be willing to lay down his life to avoid killing a mentally disturbed person who is innocent of any crime even though a fellow officer is dead because in an earlier encounter that officer mistook a person who drew a pistol on him and fired a fatal bullet.
That cops are sometimes feloniously attacked is not excuse for battlefield tactics. A police officer should be willing to receive these potentially lethal blows to serve and protect the people, the innocent, the members of the public.
An officer should be willing to lay down his life for someone whose circumstances he does not know. He should be willing to talk with this member of the public rather than “fear for his life” and shoot to kill to reduce risk. He should believe that the life of an innocent person is worth more than the prospect of his own life, threatened unjustly by a evildoer who holds life lightly and may indeed fire upon and kill a policeman.
The role of Christ
In an encounter with members of the public, the officer should give that person the benefit of the doubt, even if it proves a fatal trap.
Better that he face a high risk of injury or death at the hands of a truly armed man than that he accidentally kill someone who is not deserving of the the 9 gram solution to officer uncertainty (the bullet in the back).
Better that the officer sacrifice himself in his line of duty then that he injure by pummeling, tazing to death, running down, or killing by a fusillade of bullets a person who is not committed any capital offense, though he may be “suspicious.”
The officer, representing public order and peace, should affect a Christ-like role, the innocent dying even for the guilty. We hear, after all, at police funerals the idea of the “ultimate sacrifice.” The officer should be willing to make that sacrifice rather than accidentally destroy an innocent life.
— David Tulis describes himself as the blogger with the city’s biggest pen — writing at Nooganomics.com and hosting a morning talk show on AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.
Seth Stouton, “How Police Training Contributes to Avoidable Deaths,” Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 12, 2014. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/12/police-gun-shooting-training-ferguson/383681/