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March 11, 2008
Client Number Nine's Troubling Number Two
Eliot Spitzer's sordid saga is quickly unfolding into a classic lesson on the perils of hypocritical self-righteousness. But it also teaches the importance of the often underrated choice a leader makes in selecting his second in command.
In a year promising many historic political firsts, David Paterson's likely ascendance would make him New York's first black Governor as well as the nation's first legally blind one. Unfortunately, his distinctiveness truly transcends these milestones.
The lieutenant governor's unique law enforcement positions are beyond ultra-liberal -- they're ultra-moronic. As NY senate minority leader, he reacted to the 2000 acquittal of the four cops that shot and killed Amadou Diallo, after mistaking the African immigrant's wallet for a gun, by proposing state penal code amendments to limit police use of firearms.
The bill would contain cops to the use of "minimal force," even when responding to deadly force. Amazingly, it would require an officer to attempt shooting an attacking suspect in the arm or leg, even when doing so might jeopardize the lives of themselves or others. Adding to the lunacy of the bill is this:
Essentially then, officers could spend up to 15 years in jail for the second-degree manslaughter charge discharging their weapons in self-defense might bring should a jury be convinced they didn't "shoot to wound."
Not only does the idea -- which endangers both cops and citizens -- betray a complete lack of law-enforcement experience, it also clearly demonstrates an ignorance of firearms approaching irresponsible for a public official.
After all, rule two of the universal laws of gun safety warns "never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy." Any instructor worth his or her salt quickly instills in students that a muzzle should never be directed at anything you don't want a hole in, or anyone you are not willing to kill.
You see, outside of TV shows and Hollywood movies, guns make dreadful non-lethal weapons.
PoliceOne.com quotes Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato:
Besides, suppose a cop only wings a bad guy, and the attacker -- surely shooting to annihilate -- then manages to kill him, his partner or an innocent bystander. Does Paterson actually believe that the life of a criminal with deadly intent is somehow more precious than any of these three thoroughly guiltless individuals?
Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association rightly denounced the bill:
Might there be racial concerns involved? Such overtones were paramount in the Diallo case reportedly at the heart of this preposterous bill. And Paterson's death-penalty opposition on the grounds of its "unfair distribution" further suggests a man crusading against perceived racial injustice. Add the fact that Paterson is facing a lawsuit claiming he replaced a white staff photographer with a black one in 2003 solely because minority senators wanted "a minority photographer, a black photographer," and his motives certainly might appear suspect.
Neither state senator nor Lieutenant Governor Paterson has yet managed to pass this unforgivably inept and questionably inspired legislation.
Should the Governorship allow Paterson to do so, the results promise to be nothing short of devastating.
And, given that such a naïve and uniquely unqualified man would never have been elected to the state's highest post, the fallout would represent yet another truly disastrous decision.
From the man believed to be client number nine.