Thursday, December 5, 2013

What's Wrong with Police in Iceland?

In Iceland, police are mourning the unprecedented shooting death of a suspect. In the United States, police are scandalized by the unfamiliar spectacle of an officer using non-lethal means to subdue and arrest an emotionally unstable man who appeared to be armed. Icelandic police are stunned and grieving because officers took a human life. Some American cops are alarmed by the “recklessness” displayed by an officer who spared the life of a Mundane.

The fatal police shooting of a 59-year-old Icelandic man on December 2 was the first to take place in that country since it achieved independence in 1944. 

Iceland is not inhospitable to privately owner firearms: it is ranked 15th in the world in terms of per-capita gun ownership. Its police typically don’t carry weapons – and its population, which is blessed to live in a country where violent crime is all but non-existent, quite sensibly prefers this arrangement.

Following an “officer-involved shooting” in the United States, the department will place the shooter on paid vacation and erect an information barricade to prevent public disclosure of critical facts. It will also quietly leak whatever damaging information about the victim it can find in order to reinforce the presumption that any use of lethal force by police is justified. 

The shooter, who is clothed in “qualified immunity,” will be given a generous interval to confer with police union attorneys in order to devise a suitable story before speaking with investigators. In some cities – Dallas, for example – a cop who fatally shoots a citizen won’t have to worry about being questioned until three days after the incident, and he can use that time to review video records of the event. 
Yes, they do that there, too: Riot police in Iceland.
Owing to their lack of prior experience with officer-involved shootings, police in Iceland (who are certainly capable of brutal behavior on occasion) are ignorant of this ritual. 

Rather than execrating the dead man and extolling the valor of the officers who shot him, the police treated the incident as a tragedy. Police chief Haraldur Johannessen told reporters that he and his department “regret this incident and would like to extend [our] condolences to the family of the man.” Some of the officers involved in the shooting have sought grief counseling to deal with the burden of taking an irreplaceable human life. 

Icelandic police saw nothing heroic about the shooting, even in circumstances in which they considered that action to be justified and necessary. American police, by way of contrast, are taught that risking their lives in order to avoid killing a Mundane is stupidly irresponsible, rather than heroic.

Charles Remsberg, a columnist for news who focuses on the all-important issue of “officer safety,” has described a recent incident in what he describes as “a Western city of roughly 50,000 population” in which a training officer and a recent recruit confronted a suicidal man during a domestic disturbance. When the man approached the officers carrying a shotgun and a handgun, they took up defensive positions behind the doors of their car and ordered him to stop. After he came within a few feet of the car, the training officer doused him with pepper spray and took him into custody without additional injury.

“Neither of the offender’s weapons, as it turns out, was loaded,” observes Remsberg. “Later it was determined that he apparently had intended to `teach his battered girlfriend a lesson for calling the police’ by provoking a suicide-by-cop.’”

Many of this officer’s comrades on the police force were impressed with this genuinely heroic act, and urged that he be nominated for a medal of valor. The police chief moved quickly to contain this outbreak of decency.

“When that proposal came to my desk, I thought, `That’s crazy! It’d be a dangerous precedent to set,’” the chief told Remsberg. “Instead, I advocated that he be disciplined, sent to mandatory training, and removed from the [field training] program. I was adamant that my officers not be afraid – or hesitant – to shoot when the situation warrants, as it, by my analysis, did in this situation.”

Whenever a police officer kills somebody, the public is sternly commanded not to “second-guess” the decision to use lethal force. In this case, however, the chief himself not only engaged in second-guessing, he was prepared to inflict damage on his officer’s career because he refrained from killing somebody. This was because “he failed to send the proper message that this administration wants officers to act decisively, with deadly force, in appropriate circumstances, and they will be backed up when they do.”

When he was a young officer, the chief recalled to Rembserg, “my partner and I often told each other, `I sure hope I’m not the first officer to shoot somebody around this place.’” Mind you, this was not because he and his partner had any moral inhibitions about killing Mundanes, but rather because they were concerned about the potential impact on their own careers: “We had no confidence that the administration would treat us in a just manner after the shooting. When I became an administrator myself, I didn’t want my department to perpetuate that kind of thinking.”
"No Hesitation" training targets for police.
This is why the chief was upset over what he described as the “`appalling’ amount of support” among his subordinates for the officer who had neglected an opportunity to kill somebody. In order to neutralize the subversive influence of a cop who acted like a peace officer, the chief intended to impose exemplary administrative punishment – until his disciplinary proposal was vetoed by the city’s public safety director. 

In order to avoid similar scandals in the future, the chief suggests that greater care must be taken to destroy any residual inhibitions on the part of police. To “educate” the public, he continues, “We have to be willing to critique non-shootings as well as shootings.” From that perspective, restraint on the part of police is a danger to public safety – not that we have much cause for concern on that account.
The face of "valor": Officer Anderson
This is a country where police are trained to overcome their reluctance to shoot pregnant women, small children, and the elderly, and where cops who gun down children carrying toy guns needn’t concern themselves about criminal charges or administrative punishment. 

This is a society in which an unarmed man who causes a public disturbance can be charged with assault because the police who arrested him panicked and shot several innocent bystanders. 

The standard of “valor” to which American police officers aspire is embodied by Henrico County Police Officer Brian Anderson, upon whom was conferred the Silver Valor Award for shooting an unarmed man holding a cellphone.
Police in Iceland are still somewhat burdened with civilized scruples, which is why their conduct would be incomprehensible to those who belong to America’s exalted fraternity of state-consecrated violence. 

An Announcement

During the past week, I've been occupied with two very time-intensive projects. The first of which is an in-depth investigative  project that may eventually result in a book. The other is ... a book, which will be available very soon. 

No Quarter is a compilation of essays and investigative pieces written over the past decade, most of which were not published here. Please watch this space, and my Facebook page, for further details. Thank you!

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

I am very excited about your upcoming books! Will you sign them in exchange for buying them through PayPal donations like liberty in the eclipse?

JdL said...

Message to cops: if you show the public that your motto is "Shoot first, ask questions later," then don't be surprised if the public takes the lesson to heart. As you sow, so shall you reap.

Gil said...

Actually what's wrong assuming not all criminals are angry young men? On the other hand, why should anyone have to make someone one has a real gun and not toy replica?

I'm sure if a private homeowner shot dead an intruder who was a either a woman, old man or some smartass teen with a toy replica then Libertarians will quick to defend the homeowner.

William N. Grigg said...

A private homeowner who shoots an innocent person can't seek refuge in "qualified immunity" and then take 72 hours to devise a story before being interrogated by detectives. That sort of privilege is enjoyed only by costumed tax-feeders.

Libertarians and other individualists oppose acts of aggressive violence irrespective of the identity of those who commit them. Since police claim to have a license to commit aggression, they're a uniquely dangerous element of society, and the fact that they're being trained to kill -- rather than to de-escalate confrontations -- should be troubling to all civilized people.

Anonymous said...

Iceland is white, so ofcourse it is low crime.

Gil said...

Somehow I doubt a private homeowner would shoot dead an innocent person just because. Instead they would feel they had to do what they did because of the circumstances and it will be investigated to see if it was justifiable. Saying you felt police officers got off scot-free is not much different from those who thought Zimmerman got away with murder because of a gutless jury.

Also saying Libertarians are "opposed to aggressive violence" is cop out as few people hurt others out of the blue instead both sides felt they had their reasons for what they did.

non de guerre said...

If they tend to look like that lovely flower enthusiast in the top photo, I would say they're also much easier on the eyes than America's legion of doughnut stuffers...

William N. Grigg said...

Somehow I doubt a private homeowner would shoot dead an innocent person just because. Instead they would feel they had to do what they did because of the circumstances and it will be investigated to see if it was justifiable.

The recent shooting of Renisha McBride could provide a test of that proposition.

Saying you felt police officers got off scot-free is not much different from those who thought Zimmerman got away with murder because of a gutless jury.

Police officers constantly get away with killings that should be recognized as unambiguous acts of criminal homicide, in large measure because those killings are rarely subjected to criminal prosecution.

In Las Vegas, for example, the Use of Force Board that reviews police killings has validated all but two incidents of that kind since 1979. The system is so patently rigged that six members of the board resigned in disgust last summer -- including an assistant sheriff and a retired police officer.

The situation is similar in Houston, where a specialized grand jury system has validated all but one police shooting during the past five years - including one in which the victim was a mentally ill double amputee in a wheelchair who was "armed" with a ball-point pen.

Also saying Libertarians are `opposed to aggressive violence' is cop out as few people hurt others out of the blue instead both sides felt they had their reasons for what they did.

Having a "reason" is not sufficient. A criminal engaged in a home invasion robbery has a "reason" to kill a homeowner who is defending his property, but the criminal can't make a valid claim to self-defense. The same is true of any other person who initiates the use of force and then kills the other person when the victim resists.

Every day -- most likely dozens or hundreds of times each day -- some people "hurt others out of the blue" with impunity. The assailants are police officers who are employing violence for some reason other than self-defense, or defense of innocent people. In such situations it is the victim, rather than the aggressor, who is usually punished for the supposed crime of resisting aggressive violence. This is a state of affairs no honest or decent human being can countenance.

Luton Ian said...

I appreciate the time you are taking to refute git.

Several years experience of that troll on Austrian economics sites suggests that it will tie itself in knots to twist and misrepresent whatever is written.

Staw manning is also one of its prime tools.

So far as I can tell, its aim is to waste time and cause low level annoyance.

It is impervious to both logical and historical refutation, and it displays no evidence of ever having done any background reading.

Bevin Chu said...


"Gil" is a well-known authoritarian troll who frequently posts nonsensical "rebuttals" at the Eric Peters Autos site as well.

Not too surprised to see him do the same here. He seeks out libertarian-oriented sites to annoy with his logical non sequiturs.

joshrawdon said...

You should be able to shoot anyone who breaks into your house; fake gun, real gun, or no gun at all. Breaking into one's home is MUCH different than failing to "obey" the orders of some cop.

Gil said...

Just as EPA is site dedicated to the "why can't we all drive the way we want?" so too is this site "we can't we live without a police system?" Hence stories get reworded to make situation sound gratuitous such the "boy with a toy gun" was in fact a teenager armed with a realistic replica rifle.

William N. Grigg said...

Someone so fastidious about the use of language by other people should be more careful -- and more honest -- in his own diction. The boy (yes, that is the proper description of a middle school-aged youth) wasn't "armed" with anything, because the object in his hands was a toy.

That murder is hardly the only instance in which a panicking police officer gunned down a small child carrying (not "armed" with) a toy. Last year I described the killing of a 12-year-old child in West Memphis, Arkansas by an authentic sociopath named Erik Sammis ( Sammis and his partner were in plainclothes; they never identified themselves as police officers; Sammis shot the child in the back as the victim was complying with an order to get on the ground; the plastic toy was equipped with a conspicuous orange tip. As the victim bled out, he sobbed that he was carrying a toy.

Yet despite all of this, Sammis was never prosecuted. He immediately hid behind his "Garrity" privilege and didn't speak with investigators for a month after he murdered the child.

We don't need a "police system" in which such murderous impunity is commonplace, and a growing number of Americans have quite sensibly decided that we can no longer countenance this state of affairs.

kirk said...

there will always be those who defend the indefensible for whatever reason, or reasons, their convoluted thought processes produce. they should be ignored. so much for 'gil'.

with respect to the icelandic police and their response to the shooting death, it is obvious sociopaths and psychopaths are not in the majority of police in that nation. comparing the police actions in iceland with those in America become amerika should go a long way to convince a vast majority of the very dangerous nature of home grown police and attest to the veracity of your numerous writings on the issue of police aggression, brutality and, yes, murder in the first degree.

unfortunately, many who worship at the altar of power are willingly blind to the incidents you annotate. regardless of the 'reasons' employed to defend the indefensible, the holders of such positions cannot open their eyes and see the truth of the reality that has developed wherein cops kill with impunity whomever they want, whenever they want. they should be recognized for what they are: supporters of the status quo who need to be told how to live, being incapable of doing so on their own.

'gil' and his type will support every vile action by any agency and are the reason for the problem of malevolent, murderous police doing as they do.

Gil said...

Once again you like to say "a boy with a toy gun". It's the way Trayvon Martin supporters used the outdated image to make him look like a darling, innocent boy as opposed to his young man gangsta persona shortly before his death. The photo accompanying the article quite clearly shows the "toy" closely resembles a real gun. The notion a person has to ascertain whether a gun is fake or not before they can act in self-defence is ludicrous.

William N. Grigg said...

"Boy with a toy gun" is a careful, accurate description of the individual and what he was carrying.The photograph shows that the resemblance between the toy replica and the genuine article is hardly as striking as the police -- and their apologists -- pretend it to be.

You are lying when you depict this incident as one involving a threat to anybody (and when you describe the victim as "armed" in any way, as you did in the previous post). This incident took place in broad daylight; the youngster was headed to a friend's house when he was accosted from behind and then gunned down when he reflexively responded to an unfamiliar voice.

The officer who murdered that kid was not threatened by him in any way, so he wasn't acting in self-defense. If we are going to abide the continued presence of government enforcement agents they will have to recognize -- as the officer in the story above clearly did -- that they will assume certain risks in order to protect the rights of innocent people, including young kids carrying toy (yes, toy) guns.

Your preferred rhetorical tactic is best described as acting like a tar baby with a fecal center. Are you a subsidized time-waster, or is this merely an obsessive hobby of some kind?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't look as if Officer Anderson could CHASE anyone...HAS to shoot them I guess...

Anonymous said...

The key to unlock the cage we all find ourselves in at this time is the judiciary. This branch of government was created, in part, to protect the people from the ambitions and excesses of the other branches of government. Nearly all important issues are ultimately determined in a courtroom. Citizens no longer have direct access to grand juries and find that their complaints are first filtered through the political office of the district attorney who will routinely refuse to prosecute anyone who is politically connected. Litigants are routinely denied standing or due process in the courts to frustrate those who seek justice from the state.
In Marbury v. Madison the supreme court ruled that an unconstitutional statute is void “ab initio” or from it’s inception. It reasonably follows that one of the first issues before any court should be the constitutionality of the law involved. Judges swear an oath to support and defend the constitution, within which is found your right to due process of law. Why is it that a denial of due process, the very definition of a void judgement, per Black’s 6th, never renders any judgement void or results in prosecution of the judge for perjury of his oath?
Judges are the gatekeepers of society. We depend upon them for redress and remedy. They have failed. In order to obtain remedy we must take back our courts by holding judges accountable.
“Jail For Judges” is a concept which creates an external review board to hear complaints of judges actions and negligence and to sanction judges up to and including imprisonment. When judges must choose between according due process to litigants and going to jail for failure to do so, that is when people will receive due process and not a minute before. When “Jail For Judges” becomes law in any single jurisdiction, i.e. any state of the union, a person need only move to that state long enough to establish residency in order to qualify to petition the court for vacation of a facially void judgement, which is the court record of a case which demonstrates a denial of due process.
People must qualify ballot initiatives to institute “Jail For Judges” and re-institute direct access for the public to grand juries to facilitate indictments against govt. actors who commit crimes. In this way the system may be used to purify itself and to return our country to a constitutionally restrained republic.

Gil said...

If there's one almost consistent thing about Libertarians complaining about "innocent people shot or tazed by psycho cops" is in reality someone commit a crime (that Libertarians argue are "victimless" or "victimless enough") and acting belligerent towards a police officer. I still cannot see how that gun looks like a toy except if you got close to it so I don't why anyone should claim they can carry a toy but realistic-looking gun in public with impunity. It's a tragedy it ended up the way it did but to pretend it was as to see it is as fake as a campy spaceray zapper is plain wrong.

I think the problem Libertarians have here is that they believe a person should be able to walk down the street with real guns anyway since it's not as though they're harming anyone. Or that walking down the street with an AK-47 is their God-given as codified by the 2nd Amendment.

Anonymous said...

Using force confirms that the ideas for which one professes to stand are bankrupt.

Disarm the police and you will recruit a different kind of person into the police force. Rather than someone who is afraid and who is inclined to murder you will recruit people who are unafraid and who believe in peaceful persuasion.

Our challenge goes beyond the police. Today we recruit into the military, the police, the law and the judiciary people inclined to murder. When nothing has meaning then murder too is meaningless.

Robes and uniforms do not change the nature of the person who wears them.

William N. Grigg said...

Gil, your diction has slipped to the point where it's nearly as infirm as your reasoning.

People "walk down the street with real guns" all the time; most of them are police officers. If police officers are entitled to shoot armed citizens on sight, shouldn't we have the reciprocal right to kill any armed police officer who enters our field of vision?

It appears that your chief complaint is that libertarians don't subscribe to the statist superstition that police are privileged aggressors whose lives are immeasurably more precious than those of the public they supposedly "protect."

Anonymous said...

William - Don't bother with Gil the Shill who only bothers to reply with variations of "I know you are but what am I". He just spends time in his Mother's basement penning trash so he can giggle and whack-off to your replies. The fact that he can only do so with a magnifying glass and tweezers appeals to his uber-geekness. lol

Keith said...

Anonymous December 9, 2013 at 2:35 PM said...
It doesn't look as if Officer Anderson could CHASE anyone...HAS to shoot them I guess...

There has to be some potential for satire or at least gallows humor in there somewhere.

Here's a first attempt;

Q: What's the difference between a certain kind of cop and Jabba the Hutt?

A: One has a fat, cruel face and multiple chins which is attached to a repulsive slug like body, and lives a thuggish lifestyle of extortion, kidnap and murder.

The other exists only in fiction

Anonymous said...

That's right Keith - it doesn't look like Anderson could chase anyone .. or even stand up!

The first thing I said was JABBA THE HUTT !!