March Madness isn’t Just for Basketball

March Madness isn’t Just for Basketball

By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D

Yes that magical time of the smell of refreshing rains, the chirping of birds returning to the budding trees, and tender flowers pushing their way through the thawing soil.

It’s also time for gang members to pick up some extra cash for not committing crime. Of  course they have to go to mediation, job training, and therapy, so we have yet to see if they need to negotiate for a pay raise to make it worthwhile.

In South Carolina, a deputy was shot by another deputy but it was all in fun. A training exercise was using fake ammunition, giving a playful cop the idea to shoot a buddy. The buddy jokingly fired back, forgetting that he had already turned in all of the fake ammo and was now once again carrying his fully load service weapon. The injured deputy, whom we presume was being asked to dance like the old bully cowboy, was shot in the leg.

In New Mexico, the Albuquerque police helicopter was assisting on a shots fired call when they became the target of the gunman. The pilot shut off the lights and engaged in evasive maneuvers, but was able to assist officers on the ground to apprehend 30 year old Ryan Koplin.

Other assaults on officers include shots fired in front of a pub at Columbus, Ohio officers who were investigating a shots fired call, a Citronelle, Alabama officer whose nose was fractured during a confrontation with a man holding a full soda can which he launched into the officer’s face, and 23 persons were charged in the attack on a police training facility, with bricks, rocks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks launched at officers in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Two Newton, Massachusetts officers were assaulted during a domestic violence call. The suspect attempted to disarm one officer and hit both offices in the head rendering one unconscious. In Fort Walton Beach, an officer was trapped in a fleeing suspects vehicle while being assaulted by the driver who told the officer “you’re going to die today”. The officer was rescued after the vehicle crashed and the felonious Antonio Marquis Belle-Betts , 27, was arrested.

A Detroit police officer suffered broken bones, a lacerated liver and a collapsed lung when he was run over by a tow truck driver. The driver had a suspended license and outstanding traffic warrants. Chicago police officer Andres M. Vasquez Lasso was shot to death on duty responding to a domestic violence call. Master Trooper James R. Bailey of the Indiana State Police, was working a multi-car accident when he received word of a pursuit headed his way. He deployed road spikes to intervene in the pursuit but was killed with the fleeing driver struck him. The driver has been charged with murder.

A parolee who was granted early release from robbery convictions because he had “several credits during his incarceration under good conduct and program participation guidelines,” shot and wounded three LAPD officers who were among those searching for him. Jonathan Magana, 32 was located but refused to cooperate with officers and opened fire. He subsequently shot himself and died.

Seattle voters in overwhelming numbers, whose elected representatives have been engaged in a ceaseless barrage of restrictions and criticism of its police even in the midst of a hiring crises, have show support for hiring more cops and paying them better. With Mayor and Council seats up for election in the near future, the hopes of restoring respect and support for the PD remain. Meanwhile, the Washington state legislature has decided that maybe police should be allowed to chase some lawbreakers after all, but only after two children were killed by a driver the law prohibited officers from pursuing.

Daytona Beach police were attempting to break up a group of motorcyclists engaged in dangerous driving. While pursuing a number of the bikers who fled, one driver turned to give an obscene gesture to a pursuing officer just moments before running a red light and being struck by a truck. Sometimes natural consequences come swiftly.

That’s a glimpse of the arrival of March as Spring approaches in the law enforcement world. How’s your month going?