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• Monday morning professor • Forces of development
Monday morning professor
I don’t usually respond to news articles, opinions or letters to editors for the simple reason that I believe everyone has a right to an opinion and to express it — a wonderful American right.
However, I couldn’t let the cleverly crafted Feb. 14 front page article by Paul Curtis go unchallenged. (“Was KPD’s Taser use on Lagmay excessive?”)
The article insinuates to the readers that KPD officers may have been “excessive” in their use of the Taser in their attempt to arrest LeBeau Lagmay and take him into custody.
The fact that Lagmay continued resisting, by keeping his hands “underneath” and out of officer’s sight in his waist area (where criminals commonly carry a firearm), doesn’t seem to provide any satisfaction to Professor Jon Van Dyke, who was selected to submit his expert opinion. Based on what?
I assume Van Dyke was not present to witness the incident, yet he has concluded that the actions of KPD officers “certainly seems grossly excessive.” Grossly? Van Dyke boldly goes on to state that “it will cost lives if used almost randomly,” which could be construed to imply that the arresting officers may have randomly selected Lagmay to try out their new Tasers.
But, wait! There’s more: He continued to declare that if “three or more officers” responded, they likely had the opportunity to “take the guy without the Taser.”
Professor, is the number three a statistically proven number that you teach to your students? Scientifically, does it consider the size, weight and experience of each of those “three” officers you state are sufficient to take someone safely (key word here) into custody?
How about the size, weight, mental state, and/or combination of intoxicants consumed by the suspect? Spoken like a true tenured college professor that teaches what he truly does not understand. The word clueless comes to mind.
I would venture a guess that Van Dyke has never participated in a ride-along with a street cop to see what the real world is like out there for them.
All law enforcement agencies have formal training programs for weapons used in the field, including the Tasers. Law enforcement agencies also have defined use of force general orders which provide the officers with “guidelines.”
I quote that word because that is exactly what they are. Printed words and hands-on training are all well and good. However, when you come across a real life situation that wasn’t taught or duplicated in the classroom environment, officers have to rely on their training and knowledge of the resources at their disposal.
Of course, there are peace officers that shouldn’t be doing what they do. Sometimes really good cops get caught up in an event and “grossly” overreact, i.e. Rodney King (a more appropriate example for your terminology).
The development of the Taser was a result of efforts to find non-lethal means to control arrestees who would otherwise see the business end of a baton or firearm; so are bean bag shotguns and rubber bullets. At what point, Professor Van Dyke, do you address the responsibility that the arrestee has to decide his/her own fate?
You have convinced yourself that you can confidently conduct a behind-the-desk Monday morning evaluation on the actions of police officers who had only moments to make a decision to prevent injury to themselves, the public and the arrestee. That is a big responsibility that a street cop makes more often than is ever reported in the news.
My point is this: The street cop is the only thing standing between a civil society and chaos; they put their life at risk every shift they work. With all due respect for your years as a senior academic, you can pretty much count on no such surprises during your work day.
I have to wonder what your opinion would have been if you were on the receiving end of an attack while three police officers stood by waiting for a legal opinion on their options.
Believe me, Professor Van Dyke, this is what it’s coming to for law enforcement in this country.
Chris Pheasant, Wailua
Forces of development
The article of Jan. 16 implies that there was a shift in position on the part of Mayor Carvalho. Little or nothing of the sort has occurred.
If this plan goes forward as it is, the bike path will still be on the beach — only farther in the mauka direction. In other words, there is no substantive change.
There will still be construction on sacred grounds (this time with poured concrete), still a further blemish to an area that was amply desecrated by the highway itself, and yet another caving-in to the forces of development-at-all-cost.
John Stern, Kapa‘a
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