Give me a moment; I’ll get to it. Trust me. And, since I’m a fiction writer, I’ll even make it all turn out well in the end, with lessons learned, a bond between police and citizens strengthened, and all that cool stuff. Hell, I’ll even tease a friend who will find this sooner or later, maybe embarrass the badgelickers who don’t see the difference between service-oriented policing and Bad Cop Stuff, and all that, although that would be a lot to ask.
It’ll be fun.
Start here, with Shane Becker getting rousted by a couple of Loomis ATM Ninjas (mainly the shaved-headed idiot, below) for the crime of photography, with some help from Officers Fife and Fife II of the much (and deservedly) maligned Seattle PD. I’ll wait.
You back? Good.
Since then, he says that he’s gotten all sorts of attention — fine — and been called a douchebag by badgelickers all across the globe for, apparently, not respecting the authoritah of various folks with badges and guns.
Yeah, he’s a douchebag, but not for that. Respect, after all, has to be earned, and none of the folks with badges in this earned any.
Let’s back up and start with a few basic principles of life: be polite by default — I’m not saying that you have to put up with a lot of bumptiousness from officious jerks without doing anything about it, honest; just do useful stuff, if you’re going to do anything, and we’ll get to that — and (I can’t believe I have to spell this out, but . . . ) if you’re threatened with bodily violence by a jerk with a gun, call the cops and let them — you can’t make them, but you can give them the opportunity — arrest him and introduce him to the more structured environment suitable to his special needs.
Anybody who doesn’t get both of those is a douchebag. So, yes, Shane Becker demonstrated that he doesn’t get the latter, and maybe — with some provocation — he missed out on the politeness stuff.
Okay. Now, let’s roll back the tape, a bit, and make the assumption that Shane Becker’s got both of those basics down, and — what the heck — let’s cut the Seattle PD just a bit of slack, for fun, and assume that Officers Debra Pelich, GE Abed, and Sergeant William Robertson are merely ignorant and mildly abusive, and not out to buy themselves all sorts of bad press and maybe worse if given an easy, obvious alternative from the very start. I’m not going to palm a card and make them great, mind you, but just decent, ordinary, service-oriented cops who got started off on the wrong path, and led themselves down it, so let’s make it easy for the poor dears to do it right, from the start, and see where it might go.
To review the bidding: Becker’s been minding his own business, standing in line at REI, after taking a few perfectly lawful photographs in a public place of something going on in said public place, and a shaved-head, bullet-headed uniformed ATM Ninja in a Loomis uniform with a big Glock on his hip in a fast-draw Serpa holster walks over and starts making impertinent demands.
ATM Ninja: When you’re done over here —
Not a bad way to phrase things, and a good start, actually.
— come talk to me.
ATM Ninja guy has forgotten the magic word: “Please.”Nothing wrong with asking a favor, after all.
Becker: No, thanks.
A polite response to an impertinent demand. Cool.
ATM Ninja: Don’t try to leave. I will tackle you.
And here’s where we go back to the basic principle, above, and what a non-douchebag should have done. In this variant, Becker whips out a cell phone and calls 911.
911: Seattle PD. What is your emergency?
Becker: I’m being held prisoner by a man with a gun at the REI. Please send help. He said he’s going to tackle me if I try to leave.
911: Police are on their way, sir. Please stay on the phone. Is he pointing a gun at you?
Becker: No, Ma’am. He’s off near the ATM with the other Loomis guy.
911: Loomis guy? These are security guards?
Becker: I think they’re Loomis security guards, servicing the ATM?
911: Where are you now, sir?
Becker: I’m in line over at the counter, and . . . here comes one of your officers.
Debra Pelich: You called 911, sir?
Becker: I sure did, and —
ATM Ninja, running over: He was taking pictures of me!
Okay, we could go a lot of ways here. I’d really like to make Debra Pelich a good, knowledgeable, service-oriented cop, but I can’t get the knowledgeable stuff in, as she’s got that “photography is a crime” thing in her no-doubt sweet little head.
(Yes, Deb, I’m being deliberately condescending, here, and I’ve made it real easy for your google egoscan to find this. Tough. Redeem yourself in real life, and I’ll give you some respect, okay?)
But I do have a soft spot in my heart (and some would say my head) for cops, so in a moment I’m going let her take a deep breath, remember what she’s signed up to do, and have her and Abed be the good — albeit not perfect — service-oriented cops that I really wish I thought that they were, and which I know damn well they should aspire to be.
Debbie: You were taking pictures of him? That’s been illegal since 911?
Becker takes his own deep breath, and sighs: No, it isn’t illegal to take pictures of some Loomis guy. But, hey, I didn’t call you to talk about photography and 911. I called you because this guy said if I tried to leave he’d tackle me, and I’d really like to be able to go about my business.
Debbie: But you were taking pictures of him!
Becker takes another deep breath: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to discuss photography with you. If you’re going to arrest me for taking pictures, I won’t resist, but . . . okay, we’ll make it simple: I need to speak to my attorney before I talk to you any more. Am I free to leave?
Debbie: I [she takes a deep breath, herself, and lets it out] . . . okay. I think I got off on the wrong foot with you, sir. Hang on a moment, please, sir? Just as a favor?
A good, service-oriented cop knows he can start soft, as that gives him some place to go later. She didn’t do that, either in this fictional account or real life. She should have. (Hey, Chief. How’s the new gig? I knew you’d stumble across this, eventually. Yes, I was listening; no, I won’t embarrass you. Gimme a call sometime; let’s do lunch, on me.) Works for women, too.
Here, if he doesn’t want to play nice, she’s got other tools in her toolbox, but she doesn’t have to decide if she’s got the right or need to take them out if “please” or the old “as a favor” routine does everything she wants, and more.
Becker: A moment, sure.
Debbie, turning to the Loomis guy: You said you were going to tackle this citizen if he tried to leave, did you?
ATM Ninja: Yeah, but he was taking pictures of me, and you know that’s illegal, and —
Debbie, who has finally gotten it: Sir. I am a police officer. I can, under some circumstances, detain a citizen who wishes to go about his business without performing an arrest. You, sir, are not. You’re a guy with a badge and a gun, sir. Maybe it’s illegal for him to take your picture; maybe it isn’t. We’ll let the prosecutors sort that out. But are you telling me that you made a citizens arrest of this guy? If so, well, and I’m sorry, sir, but if he did, then I have to take you into custody — I got no choice. Then again, if it’s a false arrest —
ATM Ninja: False arrest? Who’s talking about an arrest? I just asked the guy to talk to me, and just wait minute, I —
Debbie: I’m speaking, sir. You’ll have your chance in a moment. [Turns to Becker] I’m sorry, sir; I didn’t introduce myself, before. I’m Officer Debra Pelich of the Seattle PD? May I have your name?
Becker: Shane Becker, Ma’am.
Debbie: May I see your ID, please, sir. One way or another, I’m going to need to see it for my report.
Debbie: You’re still at this address?
Beckier: I don’t know if —
Debbie: Please, Mr. Becker. You called me; I’m here to help. Really.
Becker: Well, sure, I guess it doesn’t hurt anything to tell you that. Yeah. I am.
Debbie, returning the ID: Thank you, Mr. Becker. [Turns back to the ATM Ninja] Now, if it turns out that you and I are right, and that photography’s a crime, we can get him picked up. Unless, of course, you’re telling me that you performed a citizens arrest? I’ll haul him in right now, and you and Loomis can try to justify it. Lotsa luck.
ATM Ninja: I, err….
Abed: I dunno, Deb. I don’t like security guards playing cop. You?
Debbie: Never cared for it, myself. And I don’t like guys with guns threatening bodily harm to the citizens we serve and protect.
Abed: I read somewhere that’s illegal.
Debbie: Yeah, me, too.
Abed: You want to let this slide, Mr. Becker? Technically, it’s our call, but . . .
Becker: I guess I can let that slide. But this photography stuff . . . ?
Debbie: Hey. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. Does sound kinda strange that there’d be some law against taking a picture of a security guard, though. Let’s say we let the brass and the prosecutors sort it out. If I have to come out and arrest you, though, I’ll just be doing my job. Nothing personal, sir.
Abed: Yeah. Like that’s going to happen. Mr. Becker? You sure you don’t want us to arrest this guy? I mean, hey, I think he’s just a working guy who made a mistake, and . . .
Debbie: I think we’ve kept Mr. Becker long enough. You have a nice day, sir. And next time some jerk with a gun threatens you, you send for the Seattle PD again, please. Protect and serve, and all . . .
So, yeah. Shane Becker is a douchebag. But in this mess, he was the least douchie of the lot.
Do better next time, Deb. Really.