Rate of stupid criminals high too

The Chronicle's story "Police shooting rate high" Thursday did not cover every aspect of why five people have been shot by police here -- four fatally -- in the past year. No single story can cover every angle.


The story merely took note of the incidents -- and the fact that Augusta seems to have had more than its share of them of late.

There will be more reporting in the weeks to come.

The truth is, the entire community should be asking questions -- and not just about the conduct of our sheriff's deputies. Consider: In four of the five cases, officers were found to be justified; the fifth case, which happened only Tuesday night, is still under investigation.

In two of the cases, an innocent person -- a child in one, a woman in another -- had a knife to the throat, and may have been saved by deputies from being killed.

That's not merely justified. That's heroic.

In one case, it was an armed robber who was killed. In the other two cases, suspects were attempting to flee police and reportedly put officers in danger.

So maybe the rate of really stupid criminals is high here, too.

Moreover, it must be said: There have been no allegations that any of the people shot by police were in any way innocent. Fact is, several of them had extensive or at least troubling records.

Much has been made of the fact that the police shooting rate per capita is higher here than in Los Angeles or New York. Statistically, does that mean much of anything? In a much smaller pool, it doesn't take too many incidents to raise the "per capita" of anything.

Perhaps these situations don't come up as often in big cities because officers can't be there as quickly -- and may not be able to intervene and save an innocent life.

Moreover, as experts said in the Thursday story, the number of incidents is out of context unless you look at the circumstances of each case. "The number alone is high, but that doesn't mean there's a problem," said Geoffrey Alpert, professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina.

Still, no rock should be left unturned. In the weeks ahead, we should learn more about officer training and rules of engagement. Questions should also be asked about the behavior of those shot by deputies. What led up to each incident? Why didn't they obey lawful commands from uniformed officers?

The stark reality is that you have to go miles out of your way toward Stupid Town to be shot by an officer of the law. So far, we've not heard of any Eagle Scouts being taken down while pledging allegiance to the flag.

What possesses people to flout the law and brazenly take on armed officers as these folks have? Questioning authority is one thing; daring it to shoot you is quite another. And if they take on a sheriff's deputy this way, what would they do to an unarmed civilian?

If the community asks these types of questions, we're likely to find a number of reasons: lack of parenting, lack of education, lack of morals, lack of hope, lack of caring. And drugs. Lots of drugs.

There's not much the sheriff's department can do about the parenting, the education, the morals and the like.

As for the drugs and thugs, the good guys with the guns are the best thing we've got going.



Thu, 01/18/2018 - 23:00

Editorial: We are all commissioners now