Yes, Virginia…it CAN happen here…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions, messages, and comments about the incident that happened this weekend in McKinney (where I live), about a video posted to the ‘net, showing three McKinney PD officers detaining and arresting some kids at a pool party. If you watched the video, (shot on a cell phone by a bystander) you see very angry cops, one of whom pulls his gun (and then re-holsters it, when the other two officers flank him), and a young girl grabbed by her pigtails and forced to the ground, face in the grass and handcuffed. Pretty shocking stuff. So what really happened? And is this as bad a situation as it looks on the video?

Let’s everybody take a step back, and then take a deep breath.

I suspect that there’s a lot more to this story than is in the video. But I wasn’t there. I don’t want to be guilty of second-guessing the police. I do think, though, it’s okay to ask questions at this point.

Let me start by saying that I’ve had two interactions with McKinney PD since I moved here – both of them extremely positive. In the first instance, my daughter and I were in a movie theatre for a midnight show. They stopped the movie, to tell us that a number of cars had been burglarized, but the police had caught the thieves in the act. They asked us to check our cars to see if anything was missing, so they could help us recover our possessions and press charges. Great, proactive police work. I was impressed. The second interaction took place in a light rain, at night. I was pulled over by a policeman who’d noticed my plates had expired. No ticket. VERY polite and professional officer, which was particularly notable, as he was working in the rain. Cold rain. So my personal experiences with McKinney PD have been universally positive.

Here’s a link to the latest news coverage from the local NBC affiliate: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/McKinney-Police-Officer-Placed-on-Administrative-Leave-306409981.html

My daughter will be a Senior at Independence HS. She may well know some of the kids at that party. Scary. White officer. Black kids. I expect a visit to the neighborhood from Al Sharpton just any minute. Crap.

I don’t want to speculate on what happened before the cops arrived. Nor do I want to speculate on what might have provoked the behaviors of anybody. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. And there are as many sides to this as there were people there.

As I suspected, more information is coming out about this. And the subsequent reports make things look a lot less one-sided. Here’s a link to a story from Brietbart, with some eyewitness accounts to what happened to bring the police out in the first place: http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/06/07/video-emerges-of-violence-at-innocent-pool-party-in-mckinney-texas/

According to one eyewitness (who’s a resident of the neighborhood and who happens to be black) this wasn’t about race. It started because some kids trespassed, climbing a wall into a private pool area. The resident used the word “THUGS” to describe these kids. (Wow. I wonder if the media will call him a black racist?)

Now, NONE of that can justify pulling a gun on a bunch of unarmed kids, unless the kids were acting like a mob and throwing rocks (or worse) attacking the police physically. But it does make the kids look less like a bunch of innocent lambs.

I know a lot of LEOs personally. Good people. Tough job. I also know – and know of – a few who I don’t think are cut out to be police officers. Being an officer means you have to be able to keep your cool in ANY situation. Police officers have procedures (like calling for backup) in situations where they feel overwhelmed. Certainly, when you look at the video, it seems to tell a story of some kids who might have been a little loud or rowdy (don’t know, wasn’t there) some neighbors who were concerned enough to call the cops (they might have been legitimately worried, or they might have been racists  – don’t know, wasn’t there). Then the police arrived, and things quickly devolved, to the point where one officer clearly lost his cool and pulled his service weapon.

Wow.

I thank God nobody was seriously hurt. I think it’s appropriate for the police to put the officer on administrative leave. Watching the very damning video, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get fired, ultimately. Not because of any racism, mind you. I think most cops are color-blind. But I think this one did not control his temper, and acted inappropriately, with a disproportionately high level of force compared to the threat level ( real or perceived) presented by a bunch of kids in swimsuits. That’s not the kind of mistake that your career can survive. Maybe I’m wrong. But then there’s the race issue, and history tells us that in many cases Sacrifices Must Be Made™ in order to prevent even the appearance of racism. If the races had been reversed, the cop would likely get off with a reprimand. But let’s not kid ourselves. Black, 14-year-old girl. White cop. This won’t end well for his career, no matter what happened that day. The other two officers may find themselves in career trouble too. From watching the video, it appears to me that they stopped the first cop from making things exponentially worse. (Again…I don’t know, wasn’t there.)

The REAL problem(s)? First of all, any time something like this happens, somebody is going to cry ‘racism’ and the situation is going to go from “what really happened” to “what do we do to end the controversy?” Not good. I hope Sharpton and his ilk stay away. The City of McKinney will deal with it appropriately. Having race-baiting hucksters like Sharpton here won’t help things for anybody – not those kids, not minorities, and not the citizens of McKinney. Only if this is swept under a rug should any other group get involved.

The other serious problem is what I see as an alarming tendency for police departments to react to problems with force – sometimes what looks like excessive force – and too often in a militarized fashion. That’s frightening. This video looks bad…a bunch of kids in swimsuits versus three cops. No water balloons or SuperSoakers in sight (thank God). And from the looks of it, these kids looked pretty clean-cut. If that were my daughter, I know I’D be righteously angry. And quite likely litigious. Take away the issue of potential racism, and I think we need to look at the increasing tendency, nationwide, for cops to react with more force than in the past. I blame the provisions in the Patriot Act that allowed/encouraged/funded local police to acquire military-grade weapons. This has triggered (no pun intended) an unfortunate by-product, that being police officers acting more like military than local law enforcement. It’s not just the gear. It’s a mindset. And that needs to stop.

I hope cooler heads prevail. In the current political climate, I cannot see anybody trying to sweep this under the rug. But what we don’t need is the politicization of this situation, for political gain, by Sharpton, local politicians, the news media, the Justice Department, or the President. Been there. Done that. Nothing good will come of it.

I’ve reached my fifth decade on this planet without ever getting a law enforcement officer angry with me, or having one threaten me with arrest or bodily harm. Wanna know my secret? I assume that ALL cops are underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated and likely NOT in a good mood because of it. I mean, do you think most cops WANT to get out of their cars, rain or shine, to make a traffic stop, when they know that there’s the potential for them to get shot by some criminal? Nope. So I do this: I’m VERY polite. NEVER sarcastic. (Yes. I can avoid sarcasm when I have to.) I follow their instructions. I listen and talk as little as possible. I make eye contact. I keep my hands visible to them. I avoid acting in any way that could be perceived as threatening, or not acknowledging that they are in charge.

I’ve found it’s really difficult to argue with someone who is agreeing with you, obeying you, and showing you respect for your position. I’ve tried to show my daughter how important this is, and how it could, quite literally, be the difference between a situation that is annoying and one that is life-threatening. I wish everybody did the same thing when dealing with the police. If everybody lives to tell the tale, there’s always another day and another time to tell your side of the story.

SO…let’s everybody take a deep breath. Let’s let the justice system do it’s job. Let’s hope everybody is okay, and that the truth will out. And let’s hope that the lessons from this event are learned by all, and that we can all find a way to keep this kind of thing from happening again.

UPDATE: http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/06/08/the-full-story-of-the-mckinney-texas-pool-mob-inside-the-craig-ranch-subdivision/

Follow the link above, and read it all the way to the end. Looks like there’s even more to this story than I first imagined. Here’s a couple of things that make a big difference in this story:

  • Home Owners Associations have very specific rules about common areas, including neighborhood pools. The 20-year-old girl who organized the party was breaking quite a few HOA rules, especially as to how many people she invited. When even more kids showed up than she expected, it got out of hand, quickly.
  • The pool area was fenced-in, and limited to key card access. HOA rules limited parties to 20 guests, and required a fee and a security deposit. The party organizer didn’t pay, and didn’t have permission for a party.
  • The party organizer got into an argument with an adult resident. The argument came to blows. That’s when police were called.
  • The meme that the residents of the “all-white neighborhood” were shouting racial slurs at the kids is wrong on many levels. It’s a well-integrated neighborhood, and the kids were out-of-control, shouting profanities at the neighbors trying to restore order. If the residents responded with profanity, that’s wrong…but understandable under the circumstances.
  • There were some 130 kids there at the party. According to eyewitness accounts, only about seven of them were causing trouble.
  • A number of kids went wild, running through the neighborhood, damaging property.
  • From the video, it appears as if someone approached the officer from the side, assumed a “shooter’s stance” and reached behind his back. as if he were drawing a concealed weapon. The officer saw this action from the corner of his eye, causing him to draw his weapon. Virtually anybody with any training in self defense would have done exactly the same thing.

So what really happened? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the eyewitnesses quoted in the article linked above WERE. And they make a strong case that this was NOT racism, but instead an out-of-control party, with some people pushing their own agendas in how it’s been covered.

 

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