How Much Abuse Should Officers Take?

For all those hand-wringers out there who are shaking their collective heads in disbelief that a fifteen-year-old Mexican boy was shot dead by a Border Patrol agent because he was attempting to brain the guy with a rock, let's be clear. A rock, colliding with your skull, can kill you just as surely as a bullet.

When you watch some of the videos of what these Border Patrol agents have to put up with every day, you have to wonder why more rock-throwers are not shot. I've known police officers who were killed with blunt objects and some who were crippled for life after being bludgeoned by someone they allowed to get too close. During the Columbia University war protests in 1968, a cop I had worked with a few times was assigned, along with other officers, to try to contain the marauding students and keep anyone from being injured. Well, many cops were injured while trying to be gentle with that bunch of spoiled brat radicals. One of them was my erstwhile partner. As he was keeping his eyes on a rampaging group several feet away, many of whom were throwing rocks, bottles, and other solid objects, some of which were bouncing off his helmet, he paid no attention to a student who had scaled the ledge of a one-story building, just above him.

He was totally unprepared for what happened next. One of those "activists" leaped from the roof and landed on the cop's shoulders, breaking the fall of the student, but breaking the back of the cop. The downward thrust of the weight crushed the lower part of his spine, destining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his young life.

In Brooklyn, during the riots of the turbulent sixties, I and many of my fellow officers faced off against street thugs who hurled anything they could get their hands on in an attempt to injure and intimidate us. Can you imagine standing out in the open, wearing a uniform that represents law and order, and having to bob and weave as you try to avoid being hit by a barrage of weapons, any one of which could kill or severely injure you? The idea that people who are assigned the duty to protect the public should be passive targets for violent assaults makes the term "law and order" a ludicrous misnomer. What part of the Constitution allows people to attack and injure symbols of authority with impunity?

Attacks like those described are engaged in by the most cowardly of all people because they're done with an air of confidence that the police will not resort to their guns. It's tantamount to beating someone who is incapable of defending himself. We're hearing from the Mexican government about the "disproportionate use of force" by U.S. authorities. Okay, so how would it look if those border agents began throwing some of those rocks back at their tormentors? How about cops dealing with violent demonstrators by tossing beer bottles at them?

Freedom to protest is a bedrock principle of this democracy, but that freedom is not advanced by making piñatas out of our law enforcement agents. Although my heart goes out to the grieving family of that young boy, part of me wants to know where they were when he was challenging the authority of another country and daring anyone to stop him. Part of me wants to know where they were when he was engaged in smuggling activities for the past couple of years, as has been revealed since this incident. Now that their "child" is dead, they are filled with emotion and hatred for the officer who finally decided he was not going to bob and weave anymore.

Meanwhile, that officer has been placed on administrative leave while "a thorough, multi-agency investigation is being done." Too bad we don't have as much attention paid to the multiple murders of agents who lost their lives trying to enforce the law against drug smugglers and human traffickers who, every day of every week, wage a deadly war against the sovereignty of our country.

Where is the outrage and indignation from the Mexican government about the millions of their people who break into our country and demand free health care and a laundry list of other amenities, none of which they expect to pay for? Frankly, I'm tired of seeing my country being continuously abused and disrespected. Those tired and poor huddled masses, "yearning to breathe free," can enjoy the benefits of liberty if they do it legally, like so many millions before them. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of our laws and weaken the social structure that makes us a desirable place to emigrate to.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob. 
For all those hand-wringers out there who are shaking their collective heads in disbelief that a fifteen-year-old Mexican boy was shot dead by a Border Patrol agent because he was attempting to brain the guy with a rock, let's be clear. A rock, colliding with your skull, can kill you just as surely as a bullet.

When you watch some of the videos of what these Border Patrol agents have to put up with every day, you have to wonder why more rock-throwers are not shot. I've known police officers who were killed with blunt objects and some who were crippled for life after being bludgeoned by someone they allowed to get too close. During the Columbia University war protests in 1968, a cop I had worked with a few times was assigned, along with other officers, to try to contain the marauding students and keep anyone from being injured. Well, many cops were injured while trying to be gentle with that bunch of spoiled brat radicals. One of them was my erstwhile partner. As he was keeping his eyes on a rampaging group several feet away, many of whom were throwing rocks, bottles, and other solid objects, some of which were bouncing off his helmet, he paid no attention to a student who had scaled the ledge of a one-story building, just above him.

He was totally unprepared for what happened next. One of those "activists" leaped from the roof and landed on the cop's shoulders, breaking the fall of the student, but breaking the back of the cop. The downward thrust of the weight crushed the lower part of his spine, destining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his young life.

In Brooklyn, during the riots of the turbulent sixties, I and many of my fellow officers faced off against street thugs who hurled anything they could get their hands on in an attempt to injure and intimidate us. Can you imagine standing out in the open, wearing a uniform that represents law and order, and having to bob and weave as you try to avoid being hit by a barrage of weapons, any one of which could kill or severely injure you? The idea that people who are assigned the duty to protect the public should be passive targets for violent assaults makes the term "law and order" a ludicrous misnomer. What part of the Constitution allows people to attack and injure symbols of authority with impunity?

Attacks like those described are engaged in by the most cowardly of all people because they're done with an air of confidence that the police will not resort to their guns. It's tantamount to beating someone who is incapable of defending himself. We're hearing from the Mexican government about the "disproportionate use of force" by U.S. authorities. Okay, so how would it look if those border agents began throwing some of those rocks back at their tormentors? How about cops dealing with violent demonstrators by tossing beer bottles at them?

Freedom to protest is a bedrock principle of this democracy, but that freedom is not advanced by making piñatas out of our law enforcement agents. Although my heart goes out to the grieving family of that young boy, part of me wants to know where they were when he was challenging the authority of another country and daring anyone to stop him. Part of me wants to know where they were when he was engaged in smuggling activities for the past couple of years, as has been revealed since this incident. Now that their "child" is dead, they are filled with emotion and hatred for the officer who finally decided he was not going to bob and weave anymore.

Meanwhile, that officer has been placed on administrative leave while "a thorough, multi-agency investigation is being done." Too bad we don't have as much attention paid to the multiple murders of agents who lost their lives trying to enforce the law against drug smugglers and human traffickers who, every day of every week, wage a deadly war against the sovereignty of our country.

Where is the outrage and indignation from the Mexican government about the millions of their people who break into our country and demand free health care and a laundry list of other amenities, none of which they expect to pay for? Frankly, I'm tired of seeing my country being continuously abused and disrespected. Those tired and poor huddled masses, "yearning to breathe free," can enjoy the benefits of liberty if they do it legally, like so many millions before them. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of our laws and weaken the social structure that makes us a desirable place to emigrate to.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob.