A few months ago, I took the dogs out to pee at oh dark thirty as I often do. In the middle of wishing they’d hurry up and pee, I heard several gunshots in the distance. That might alarm somebody from a nice place, but in New Mexico, it’s almost completely normal. I figured the shots were around a half mile away, so I didn’t worry about it too much. But, in the following weeks, I learned a lot more about what happened.
Now, you will too. I’ll share a YouTube video I found analyzing the incident, add some context people online don’t know, and then get to what anybody carrying a gun for defense can learn from this incident.
In short, the video shows a police officer’s bodycam as he confronts a woman sitting in a car at a local public housing area for elderly disabled people. Throughout the incident, he stays ugly and nasty with everyone involved and makes a number of really questionable law enforcement decisions, like letting a guy who had something that looks like a gun out of his sight, not arresting a guy with a warrant and telling him that he’s going to put out another warrant (totally confusing).
Lacking any control over the scene, the woman gets back into the car, hits him with her car door while backing out, and then drives away. At this point, he draws his pistol and shoots into the car, with deadly consequences.
Before I get into the biggest problem, I do want to add some valuable context (which I’ve already shared with local police). The man in the car is part of a gang of homeless people who are in the habit of finding elderly disabled people to prey on. They often threaten them until they let them stay in their houses, and then use the houses to stash stolen goods. Another local non-homeless gang then comes regularly to trade the stolen goods for fentanyl.
One of the houses this gang operated from was a neighbor of mine, who requested my assistance dealing with them when the police refused to do anything about it. It took a lot of work and several times letting them see that people in the neighborhood were on the verge of shooting them before they left, but not before they started firing guns off randomly in the neighborhood to try to intimidate us. Let’s just say that this didn’t work out for them like they’d hoped.
As I’ve said before, New Mexico is a wild place and the drug problem isn’t helping. So, the cop likely knew that he was dealing with these people again, which probably explains why he was in such a foul mood right from the beginning. He also has been working in a stupid catch-and-release criminal justice system that should be putting these people away, but doesn’t.
At the same time, this isn’t a good excuse for losing emotional control and not controlling the scene. Police officers have to deal with stupid nonsense all the time, and should cultivate the ability to keep one’s emotions under control to keep a clear head and not make idiotic mistakes. Personally, I would have found a job out of state (Texas is just down the road) if I was the guy instead of trying to work in a system that doesn’t care about people who victimize the elderly. It’s no surprise that the city is now offering huge hiring incentives, because nobody wants to work an impossible job and then get charged with murder.
But, we aren’t all cops or former cops here. Let’s talk a bit about what the rest of us CCW people without badges can pick up from this situation!
Whether you’ve got a badge or not, it’s important to keep in mind that losing your cool causes some very bad things to happen inside your brain. As your heartrate increases and stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline start getting into the bloodstream, higher brain functions shut down. That greatly increases the number of very dumb mistakes you’ll make at a time when you can’t afford to make mistakes.
If you ever find yourself cussing, swearing and freaking out during a bad situation, take some deep breaths as recommended in this video. It works wonders at lowering your heart rate and getting your brain working right again.
It’s also important to learn nonviolent dispute resolution techniques. Police can use the “Five Step Hard Style” to get voluntary compliance from uncooperative people instead of cussing them out and telling them they’re going to make life hard. The rest of us can use techniques like LEAPS (Listen, Empathize, Ask Questions, Paraphrase, Summarize). But, I could write a whole article about Verbal Judo and other dispute resolution techniques.
Instead, here’s a video for those who want to learn more:
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