Three Cheers for Arizona PD’s 'Front-Bumper Takedown' of Crime Spree Suspect
Or perhaps I should say, the end of one problem, the beginning of another. With the use of force by police so much in the news these days, the graphic images of Valencia being mowed down attracted media attention from coast to coast and beyond. To his great credit, Marana police chief Terry Rozema made the cable TV rounds to defend Officer Rapiejko’s actions. “If we’re going to choose between maybe we’ll let him go a little bit farther and see what happens,” he told CNN, “or we’re going to take him out now and eliminate any opportunity he has to hurt somebody, you’re going to err on the side of, in favor of the innocent people. Without a doubt.”
Kudos for that, Chief.
And it got even better. “As far as other things we could have done, yeah, you can Monday-morning quarterback,” Chief Rozema said. “Not being a patrol officer I have the benefit of sitting in my office or sleeping on things to make those kind of decisions. This officer made a split-second decision, and in retrospect, when all the dust clears, I think we look at this and say, yeah, there are things that we can learn from this, but the entire community is safe, all the officers are safe, and even the suspect in this case is safe.”
Differing with this, of course, is Valencia’s public defender, Michelle Cohen-Metzger. “Quite honestly, it’s miraculous that my client didn’t die,” she said. “He hit him full speed ahead.”
Not exactly “full speed ahead,” counselor, but fast enough to achieve the objective.
So let’s address Ms. Cohen-Metzger’s grievances and those of others who may feel Mr. Valencia was dealt with too harshly. Retired Secret Service agent, author, and failed political candidate Dan Bongino spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday (transcript is here). “I have to question this tactic a bit,” he said. “I think setting up a secure perimeter and at least making some attempt to negotiate may have been far more efficient.”
In this Mr. Bongino offers us a lesson on being wary of the opinions of so-called experts. He was with the New York Police Department for just four years before joining the Secret Service, so while he may be well qualified to opine on issues related to dignitary protection and standing a fixed post for eight hours, his street experience is minimal. How, I would ask him, might the police have set up a secure perimeter without exposing themselves and the hundreds of employees in the nearby businesses to rifle fire? Add to this the potential danger to motorists driving on the I-10, which was just down the street and well within the range of Valencia’s weapon.
No. Valencia had to be stopped at once, and a Taser or a beanbag shotgun or pepper spray or whatever fantasy weapon someone might dream could have been deployed were all out of the question. The only sane alternative to running him over would have been to shoot him, preferably with a rifle, something he likely would not have survived.
Three cheers for Officer Michael Rapiejko for doing what he did, and another three for Chief Terry Rozema for defending him in the media.
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