Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sticks and stones.

Yes, it was a glitch in the selection process.

The fact that someone so disturbed as to respond to name-calling with gunfire was able to do so with a department-issued rifle does not bode well for the future fiscal well-being of Forest County, because I guar-on-tee that the sky over Crandon, Wisconsin is about to turn legal-pad yellow with lawsuits.

While the only really guilty party is already taking a dirt nap, I do wonder what has become of a society where a young man can grow up... scratch that last, as he obviously had not grown up... where a boy could make it to the age of twenty thinking that lethal force was an appropriate response to taunting.


Unknown said...

Twenty is far too young for most kids to be given a badge and a gun. They're still maturing, and that kind of responsibility and necessity for level-headedness is usually beyond someone who's just barely out of puberty.

Tam said...

...and yet it's a swell age for a kid to jump out of a C-47 into the night skies above Normandy.

Tam said...

FWIW, he would have been an adult for six years in republican Rome.

Of course, they would have treated him like one, too, rather than treating him like a minor child for eighteen years and then saying "Congratulations! Here's the vote and a gun. Go forth and do no wrong."

Kevin said...

Marko, twenty is too young for American kids to become peace officers because our culture unnaturally supports the extension of adolescence - often into senility.

Unknown said...

The difference here is that none of your example kids are tasked with the enforcement of laws, and the authority to employ deadly force while doing so.

phlegmfatale said...

Well, that 20-year-old has not-grown-up in a world that taught him all other considerations must be sublimated to his feelings, and he fell for it.

Anonymous said...

If he'd cracked at 35 instead of 20, those people would be just as dead. We'd just have 15 more years worth of societal issues, and the lack of curfews, to blame it on.

I wouldn't want to be 20 in that town. Somebody's about to get "protected."

Christina RN LMT said...

There HAD to be some kind of underlying issue with this kid.
I refuse to believe that a simple taunt could make him snap like that.
The most maladjusted goth kid probably gets teased on a regular basis, but doesn't grab his Mom's/Dad's rifle and shoot 'em up!
And of course, no one will say anything bad about this guy, all you'll here was what a nice guy he was, "normal", etc. Probably was psycho all along and was good at hiding it.

Tam said...

"I wouldn't want to be 20 in that town. Somebody's about to get "protected.""


Matt G said...

One thing about older ages for cops:

You've got more documented history on 'em to consider while evaluating them to be cops.

But the cop thing is a red herring, here; let's not get trapped by that. There was nothing about the fact that he was a cop that gave him the ability to commit that crime. Yes, it was an issue gun (maybe), but anyone could have it.

Wait and see: people will blame it on him being a cop, or on cops having EBRs, or on 14 year olds being at parties....

But maybe it was because this guy was just dammit unstable.

Now, should he have been a cop? Obviously, in hindsight, he should not.

The real question is, would it have been obvious when he was hired, if he was properly evaluated? And what's a proper evaluation?

Tamara, I'm with Marko, to an extent, on this. Fighting for your country is different from making the mature decision of whether to deprive a fellow citizen of his liberty. The 21 year age in most states is damned arbitrary-- we all know that (I've known 14 year olds that showed more maturity than a lot of 40 year olds that I've known.)-- but it hurts us but little to raise the age. 20 year olds like to fight a lot more than 40 year olds. Makes for a better soldier at 20, but often a lesser cop.

Anonymous said...

just a thought, I was 18 when I joined the Navy, I was 19 when I deployed as a USMC taxi driver. I had an M-16 with a M-203 slung under the barrel. I only saw that gun during range training and during beach landings. The one thing I can say about the military is even if you are issued a gun, that gun DOES NOT LEAVE the base except under orders and under supervision. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are rarely under the age of 21. I was old enough to fight and die for my country at 19, but my country did not trust me to carry my issue weapons without a damn good reason.


Anonymous said...

One minor detail, the police here in WI refuse to say if the rifle in question was department issued. The only thing they have said was that the department uses an AR-15 similar to the model used. It may be dept issued, but Crandon is also just up the road from Deerbrook, WI, home of Paulson's Military Supply (probably the best AR parts dealer in the state).


Unknown said...

Thanks, Matt.

Two more things on this:

Imagine you get pulled over, and you recognize the cop in the rear view mirror as a kid you know to be twenty years old. Do you feel just a slight bit uncomfortable that this officer literally has your life and freedom in his hands for the next ten minutes?

Look, a thirty-year-old cop has a dozen years of life experience as an adult under his belt: dealing with other adults, managing conflict, and learning that intricate dance that is our social interaction.

A twenty-year-old has a high school diploma, and twelve weeks at the county sheriff's shake-and-bake LEO school, and that's it. He knows how to put the cuffs on someone, write a ticket, and maybe even basic conflict resolution psychology as taught in the classroom, but he's not had much personal experience dealing with his adult self or other adults in real life. How is someone who's never had a marital argument, never a had "real" relationship other than a high school girlfriend, and never changed a diaper supposed to comprehend the dynamics of a domestic argument, and then make a balanced and appropriate decision on how to act?

Add to that the fact that a personality at 20 is not nearly as stable as it is at 30 (for most folks anyway), and that he's just emerged from the giant emotional/hormonal shitstorm that is adolescence, and giving him life-and-death powers over other citizens may not be such a terrific idea. Without a psychological vetting, it's a recipe for unpleasantness.

'Course, they'd be just as dead if he had shot them with his deer gun, and if he wasn't a sheriff's deputy. That said, gun ownership is a constitutional right, but wearing a badge and being able to arrest your fellow citizens based on your knowledge of the law and your judgment is not.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lot more uncomfortable giving sixteen-year-olds drivers licenses than I am with giving twenty-year-olds badges.

I'd like to hear more about why there was no psych screening done at the time of hire. We make credit union tellers take personality evaluations but not police officers?

Anonymous said...

tbeck said--

"We make credit union tellers take personality evaluations but not police officers?"

Because, in this society, we value money above almost everything else. Look where all the heavy construction is-- bank vaults, etc, but we send our kids to school in buildings that are little more than house trailers.

That said, I can't help but wonder if there isn't some Paxil / Prozac / Luvox in the mix here somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Looks like this string ain't that hot a place to be 20, either. Not to mention the shocking revelation that we "value" other people's money.

Hey, you kids..get off my police force!

Matt G said...

I'm too lazy to look up WI law and regs on police hiring, but I would be surprised if they didn't have psych evals and background checks required to hire a cop, like we do in Texas.

The thing is, those evals depend on the subject being evaluated to be either stark raving mad to get detected, or stupid, or both. Lots of crazy folks know that the answer that comes to them would be perceived as odd, so they give the answer that they know the majority would want them to give.

I recall taking the MMPI and having to answer this question as True/False: "Sometimes when I am at other people's houses, I feel compelled to take things, hide them on my person, and take them home with me."

Oh, come on! :)

Anonymous said...

Though I generally think rural sheriffs are better at rapport than big-city forces, I have a suspicion that their evaluation and training aren't set up to deal with traditionally urban problems. Local guy, no run-ins, clean-cut kid. Hell, I'd have hired him.

If this crack-up had been in the direct line of duty, I'd say something I believe: what we expect of police requires talents and abilities people just do not have. But this was not related. The uniform may have given him entry (so would a Pizza Hut hat); it may have given him quick access to a weapon (no biggie). The only police item here is that it proves not just the Cho's of the world can go feral.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly the point. Restricting weapons to any segment of a society is bad. This is proof that the "safe" segment is no safer than any other segment.

Anonymous said...

Just as you say, gregg, and here is where our speculation goes to fiction-grade. Do we posit a settlement (won't say 'civilization' or 'culture' because that imports too many notions) without police, where something like a drafted militia patrols the night season, and major criminal incurions keep the posse busy? Can work, has; but boy you can argue the fine points all night: potential abuse, little recruitment issues, corruption. The one that spooks me is the predicament of the people in that room. There's no future in drawing on a cop. If you survive, imagine the trial. This is no comment on our current system of policing, it's a nightmare as old as the polis. Your guard-dog goes mad. Who shall guard these self-same guardians? Well, you, obviously--but he's bred to the fight, and has the drop on you. I think Alan Ladd was in that one.

Anonymous said...

matt g, WI does have a background check for LEO, but there is no psych evaluation.

Another thing to note is that in WI you must be 21 to purchase a handgun, and he offed himself with what they said was his own Glock 40. On a side note, how can it take someone 3 shots to the head to finish the job?

GreatBlueWhale said...

"...where a boy could make it to the age of twenty thinking that lethal force was an appropriate response to taunting." Why?

Culture. Movies and the most favored music genre `for that age group both teach exactly that; women are objects and lethal force is an appropriate response to taunting, because...

Low expectations of children. Hardly anyone is reared to "cowboy up" any more which leads to...

Unrealistic expectations by children. How many kids are sheltered to the point that they never learn to live with disappointment? Life isn't the womb or crib and too many aren't taught it and don't learn it.

If these three were handled, much grief could be avoided.

Anonymous said...

"a side note, how can it take someone 3 shots to the head to finish the job?"

So much for the awesome stopping power of the Four's.

At this point I'm chalking this one up to "sh!t happens." It's an ugly, totally unnecessary tragedy. His status as a police officer did not seem to contribute much, aside from giving him access to a handgun a year ahead of schedule. But let's keep some perspective.

Nearly every morning I pick up the paper and read about a teenager killing him/herself and the rest of the unrestrained occupants of an overstuffed vehicle after trying some damn fool stunt on a learners permit.

It's a hard old world and there's not enough bubble wrap to keep things like this from happening.

Anonymous said...

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