To this day if I see a policeman, do you know what it does to me? I just stiffen up. And don’t even get near me! Because then I’m afraid of you.
— Nancy Mason, 60, tased in Hamilton County jail during booking for not taking off her earrings
By David Tulis
The rise of policing as an expression of the modern nation-state is well at its acme, its highest point, and may now be in a long-term decline.
Separately and in partial contradiction to this development, a policing conference in Chattanooga is helping further a state-sponsored narrative that justifies continuing police violence against members of the public, as if police departments were, indeed, a violent turf-oriented gang, only one fitted with legal protections and taxpayer subsidies.
An event Oct. 19 put members of the media through a “use of force” simulator, an interactive game that first gives the reporter a few practice shots with an electronic pistol and then puts him into scenarios such as a domestic dispute call, a trespass or an encounter with a homicide suspect. “The training shows how any situation can turn very bad, very quickly,” a reporter says.
Columnist Roy Exum says his encounter with the scenario “scared the beejesus out of me.”
“Do-overs aren’t possible on the street,” Lt. Jody Mays says. He is the training supervisor for Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
Explains Lynn Triplett, a sheriff’s captain, “You see in a split second how quickly things can change and you see what an officer faces everyday.”
The journalists were put through the paces in an effort by the department to obtain F$60,000 to buy the simulator. It costs F$6,000 for a two-week rental.
7 cops gang up on 60-year-old
“We need to have one of these here as big of a city as Chattanooga is,” says Tom Edd Wilson, director of the Aegis Law Enforcement Foundation. “This way they can train on it 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he says.
The lobby is a pro-police nonprofit furthering the interests of the county sheriff’s department in the areas of tech and training.
“Being able to react to a situation in an instant is hard for anyone to do,” says the former banking and chamber of commerce boss. “Our police need to have all the experience available to them so they can experience that before they get on the street.” he says.
Many instances of officer brutality — even murder — are allowed across the U.S. as a result of years of built-up legal immunity granted to police and deputies.
Sgt. Rodney Terrell was reprimanded for an instance of ordinary compulsion during a booking at Hamilton County jail. He tased a 60-year-old woman, Nancy Mason, brought in on shoplifting charges. “Mason was surrounded by seven officers and refused to take off her earrings which are not allowed in jail. She had already been pat down but she says she was frustrated and didn’t want to be there. After repeatedly asking her to remove her earrings, [Sgt. Terrell] resorted to use of force and deployed his taser. ‘I told her what was gonna, uh, that she was gonna be tased if she didn’t comply with, with being able to be searched and I tased her,’ Terrell said in a May interview with Internal Affairs. Mason screamed as she fell to the floor. After the taser’s five second deployment was up, Mason uttered ‘you broke my arm’ Terrell can be heard responding, ‘I didn’t break your arm, you broke it.’ ‘I hope no one ever goes through what I went through,’ she said in an exclusive interview with Channel 3.”
Mrs. Mason posed no threat to anyone. A bit of conversation, a smile, some cajolery, probably would have convinced her to take off her earrings, which had been the original request.
Aegis, formed in 2012, grows out of the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Foundation that Mr. Hammond created in 2010 to support policing activities here, particularly with enhanced surveillance and forensic tools.
Media coverage of this event makes the point espoused by law enforcement authorities. That officers are constantly threatened with death, that every traffic stop is potentially lethal, and that because the officer cannot possibly know who is a potential killer, every member of the public must be treated with one’s figure on the trigger, as it were.
The cry of officer safety is such a din that every officer must be armed, that he is free to result to assault and battery to attain compliance, that he is free in every encounter to begin with orders and commands upon the member of the public, compliance to which is mandatory, and resistance to which invites a painful and violent exertion of power upon such person.
The simulator story is more than a bit of marketing for more cash for law enforcement. It makes the essential argument that justifies the continuing militarization of sheriff’s deputies and police departments, and the militarization of encounters with individuals who constitute the general public, on streets, sidewalks, businesses and public events.
To further the interest of prosperity and local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, residents might well start thinking about what a city would look like in the post-police era, and an appropriate laying down of arms among public servants who contribute as much to the disturbance of the peace as of its maintenance.
— David Tulis hosts the Nooganomics.com show 9 to 11 weekdays at AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.
Sources: Latricia Thomas, “Experiencing Police Officers’ Daily Lives through Simulation,” Newschannel9.com, Oct. 19, 2015, http://www.newschannel9.com/news/top-stories/stories/experiencing-police-officers-daily-lives-through-simulation-21347.shtml
Latricia Thomas, “Simulator Training About More than Shooting or Not Shooting,” Newschannel9.com, Oct. 20, 2015, http://www.newschannel9.com/news/top-stories/stories/simulator-training-more-than-shooting-not-shooting-21389.shtml
Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Foundation, http://www.hcsheriff.gov/gen_info/foundation.asp
Shelly Bradbury, “Group sets sights on $70,000 shooting simulator for local law enforcement,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Oct. 20, 2015
Dan Kennedy, “60-year-old woman tased in jail deemed inappropriate,” Wrcbtv.com TV3, Aug. 28, 2015, http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/29909420/only-on-3-60-year-old-woman-tased-in-jail-deemed-inappropriate
Rick Locker, “Chattanooga police chief with group in Washington calling for end to ‘mass incarceration,’” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Oct. 22, 2015, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/oct/22/chattanoogpolice-chief-growashingtcalling-end/331824/