Monday, July 25, 2016

Bombing American Suspects

A US military hand grenade has a
15' kill radius and 50' injury radius.
The Dallas Police Department set a new law enforcement precedence, earlier this month, when they bombed the alleged sniper who shot 12 police officers, killing five. (The media uses terms such as alleged and suspected because a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are suspected until convicted. This is an important concept that literally makes America great.) The pound of C4 (Composition C) explosive used in the Dallas bombing counter-attack is more than twice as much explosive found in a typical hand grenade (Composition B, with steel fragments).

I have no doubt, had I been a member of the Dallas Police Department, that I would have supported the bombing. It's very "Dirty Harry-ish." It's very "Charles Bronson-ish." Quick and decisive justice. But the anger at the sniper, Micah Xavier Johnson, doesn't necessarily make this tactic right in a moral sense. Keep in mind that what works on TV, even reality TV, doesn't necessarily work in the real world. (Even though reality TV shows aren't scripted, they're still produced and directed.)

Police have the authority to use lethal force for defensive purposes, but this isn't a license to kill or summarily execute. So, the question hanging in the air is, "Is it wrong for the police to bomb suspects?"  The short answer is, "It depends." It depends on police departments codifying their procedures, openly, in a manner that doesn't conflict with any American's civil rights. Discussing and debating these laws openly is key, otherwise it will end up in a shady area like law enforcement's controversial use of the StingRay phone tracker.

Is it wrong to use atomic or nuclear weapons in war? For my entire lifetime, and then some, the answer has been a resounding, "Yes, it is very wrong." Yet, America is the only country to use atomic weapons. By doing so, America set a contrarian precedence that no one, including us, should detonate these weapons of war. So far, it's worked. It's worked primarily because of national treaties, MAD, and, more importantly, due to the fact that the effort required to create an atomic weapon is on the scale of putting a person into orbit. No organization has done either other than a national government. But that will change.

Where do I stand on the Dallas bombing tactic? While I wish the police didn't need to use military tactics on American's, here's the pragmatic reality of a tactical commander in the field... no one should second guess them. Police have rules of engagement (ROE) to follow. There were no ROE forbidding the use of atomic weapons in WW II because there was no precedence. But, once a precedence has been set, it becomes time to address it.

In the short term, the concern at hand is, if cops overreact and shoot blacks, and then blacks overreact and shoot cops, and then cops overreact and shoot blacks... well then, how does that end?

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