As a retired police officer, I am always saddened when I hear or read about any police officer losing their lives in the line of duty. Whether it’s a traffic collision, deadly gun battle or a cowardly ambush, the results are the same, numerous families lose in the long run. This post will address the most cowardly of actions, the ambush killing of police officers and what could possibly be going through an assailant’s mind.
The beginning of the week of May 5, 2019, the State of Mississippi lost an officer due to the cowardly acts of a lone gunman. The assailant walked into the Biloxi Police station identified his prey and then walked out. He returned moments later only to unleash his evil plan and opened fire on the unsuspecting officer.
This news made national headlines and officers everywhere, not knowing if there was another spree of ambush predators walking the streets, had their attention perked. My focus will not be upon the tragic incident of the senseless killing of a public servant, but what did the suspect or any suspect involved in any type of terrorist act hope to accomplish? Yes, I do consider anyone who attacks a member of any organization in order to strike fear in their hearts, a terrorist, and so does the FBI. I know it’s controversial to put this and other ambush killers who target police officers in the same field as other so-called terrorists. However, ambushing members of the government in order to bring about change or to exact some sort of revenge is precisely what a terrorist does.
The question must be asked, what did the gunman hope to accomplish by his actions? Does he think that the police will change their tactics by his actions? The answer is no. Numerous articles have been written about the ineffectiveness of terrorist acts.
In this case, there will always be some people who sympathize with the plight of the accused and may consider his point of view. To be clear, I do not know the motivation of the suspect. Maybe he had a mental disorder or was trying to bring about justice for perceived wrongs committed against him or his community by the police. I can only wish that he would consider his actions more carefully.
Exemplifying a temper tantrum and gaining a short-lived emotional sigh of relief, as he pulls the trigger, will ultimately do him and his family no good in the long run. He may have had a fleeting moment of ecstasy as the bullets escaped his weapon and entered the officer. Clearly, the pain that he caused his family will far outweigh the momentary gratification. Sure he caused havoc for the officer’s family, but they will pull their lives back together. On the other hand, the assailant and his family will be dealing with court trials and procedures for years to come. He will be expecting his family to put money on his books for commissary, so he can have access to soup, phone calls, and hygiene products. Is any of that worth it? Throwing one’s life away in order to feel some sick sense of satisfaction is the epitome of dumb.
People need to learn a saner, more practical way of airing their grievances and bringing about police reform. Maybe he was upset over the policing methods in his community. Maybe he was stopped and frisked numerous times “without reason” by officers. Maybe he was the victim of police violence, possibly by the same officer he ambushed. If any of these scenarios are the case, then the retaliation is still not justified. Learning a more practical way of changing the system is vital for the survival of all young men. This man, for a temporary sigh of relief, has thrown his life away and possibly brought his brother down with him as well.
What do I suggest? Become more active in civic and community organization which are focused on bringing about police reform. Become more involved in the voting process and continue your education. If the mayor and legislative body of the city are refusing to listen to reason and stand behind their officers, no matter what allegations are made against them, then vote them out of office. I know all of this is easier said than done and takes a large amount of time and effort. Compared to stalking unsuspecting prey and ambushing them, the long route may not seem like a viable option. This seems like simple lip service and wasting time to the ill-informed. There are other ways to fight the system. Do not be afraid to explore them and figure out how to bring change. One thing most young adults have is time. Use it wisely, as very little productivity can be done from behind bars. I personally would find it easier spending that time in the warmth of the sun as a free man, rather than life on the inside with 1 hour in the yard for the next 25 to life.