Stand Down                                                       Report 973 words

June 2022

Howard R Music

 

The school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where local police and state troopers provided security for the gunman while he was working, was compared to the 2021 BLM riots that recorded police from many sections of the country simply watching the hooligans as if it were a spectator sport.

Though reported as if the stand-downs were a new phenomenon, in reality, protect and serve has been an ever-diminishing part of law enforcement for at least four-decades that I have witnessed.

I first became aware of this in the early 1980s. After being discharged from an Air Force tour in 1976 I lived and worked various construction jobs in a small town in the rural Texas county where I had graduated high school. Law enforcement personal were few and consisted of the county sheriff and a handful of deputies, and the local highway patrol. Only two towns in the county had city police, which closely resembled Mayberry in the highly popular Andy Griffith show of the 1960s. The police chief was just as likely to transport a teenager caught drinking to his home to be dealt with by angry parents as he was to lock him up. In general, a person had to do something that stood out to attract the attention of a rare cop. 

That changed abruptly in 1980. Local jurisdictions eagerly signed on to federal grant programs that funded additional police officers and equipment. Where there had never been a cop there were now several roaming the streets. Since violent crime was low on the scale in a county where unlocked doors were not a rarity, to justify their existence, the new officers became quite adept at writing traffic tickets. Drunk driving laws were being pushed on the states at the federal level, and the Reagan era “just say no” as well as new federal drug confiscation statutes added to the incentive. It was quite a shock to live in an area where a cop was seldom seen to almost overnight being unable to drive without being pulled over.

During this time-frame a young woman I knew was attacked by an intruder in her home. She managed to fight the man off, but was bruised from being smacked around, and had a few superficial cuts from a knife wielded by the man. The intruder was a young head-case recently released from juvenile lockup for armed robbery. He had a history of drug use and mental problems, the girl could identify him, and the man had left a distinctive bloody handprint on a wall. Since police were so aggressive with traffic violations, I assumed the same zeal would be used to arrest, and convict the would-be rapist. However, the local police refused to do anything. The girl and her boyfriend went to the county prosecutor’s office and were again given the cold shoulder. The local Justice of the Peace also refused to even issue a restraining order on the man in case he did try to come back.

The boyfriend, his patience stretched thin, decided to end it himself, tracked the man down, and followed him to a bank where he waited outside with a make-shift-club for the perp to finish his business. Probably not the smartest move, but what’s a man to do? Unfortunately for him, either the perp or one of his friends or family spotted the boyfriend, and called the police. A squad car quickly arrived and the officer informed the vigilante if he touched the lunatic he’d be arrested.

The girl soon moved to another county and was never bothered again. No explanation was ever given as to why the authorities not only allowed the criminal to continue his nefarious ways but were quick to protect him. Some of the man’s family were known dealers, and I can only speculate that perhaps the police were using him as a snitch, a fairly common practice. Drug corruption ran deep at the county level. The local sheriff at the time was eventually given a prison stretch for collaborating with meth manufactures. I suspect it was a combination of drug corruption, and the fact that traffic citations generate substantial revenue, while criminal prosecution and incarceration tends to drain the coffers.

Texas Sheriffs at one time were almost always elected from the local populace. The county sheriff jailed for drug running was replaced by a retired Texas Ranger. Two adjoining counties had a retired federal marshal and a federal agent in their sheriff positions. Add this to all the federal money and equipment heaped on state police departments and it’s not hard to image that local control of law enforcement is little more than a quaint notion.

Federal agents tripping over one another in local crime situations is almost a given. The Twin Peaks’ debacle outside of Waco, Texas, where bikers gathered at a political meeting were attacked, which erupted in gunfire, was attended by virtually every alphabet federal agency in existence. Two Muslims intending to shoot up a draw Mohammed contest in Arlington, Texas, were literally followed into the parking lot by an FBI agent. The jihadi’s plans were foiled when an alert security guard, who happened to be a firearms instructor, put a bullet into each one’s head before they could get off a shot. The FBI agent took off, but was caught and arrested, though later released and never heard from again.

It's not hard to imagine a phone call from, or a visit to a county sheriff or police chief by a “special agent” could alter, or completely stop an investigation, or perhaps start one. Is it too far-fetched to believe a stand-down was ordered during a shooting in progress?

Every time I read about corruption associated with Mexican Federales I get a strong sense of déjà vu.

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