Home Peeps and Places Mesa Peeps Richardson: ‘Are today’s police officers ready for urban combat?’

Richardson: ‘Are today’s police officers ready for urban combat?’

Bill Richardson

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is the latest reminder of what happens in America with regularity.

The system is broken. So what else is new? While law enforcement has been focused on the flavor of the day when it comes to 21st century politically motivated and politically correct policing, the tiny cracks that exist in any system have evolved into giant crevices in American policing.

It’s as though law enforcement has lost its way and has taken a path dictated by politicians, careerists and a steady stream of risk averse novices who have taken charge of our safety.

The shooter in Florida left a path that could be seen from the space station.

Fingers can be pointed at any number of people.

No doubt the FBI employees who were the first targets in the blame game will have hell to pay. Maybe they deserve it and then again maybe they don’t.

Next comes the child welfare workers in Florida. If Florida’s child welfare system is anything like Arizona’s, it’s a complete mess even on a good day. Under paid, underfunded and overworked case workers are shoveling sand against a sea of throwaway kids the politicians long ago forgot about. Welcome to the new world of state social work.

And now we’re at the deputy sheriffs from Broward County. Did they drop the ball? Maybe? But just like the social workers, what are they to do when the system is broken and there’s no place to go with a horribly disturbed child?

The deputy on duty at the school when the shooting took place is the current grand champion in the blame game.

From TV commentators to his boss to the president, this man who could’ve and should’ve done this and that, will go down in history as the worst of the worst when it comes to blame. Is it deserved? Maybe? But I’ll let you in one of the dirty little secrets of policing, there’s plenty of officers who’d have done the same thing. Not all law enforcement officers are bigger than life John Wayne-type heroes. Charging a shooter, confronting a man with a gun or even going into the dark and unknown isn’t for everyone, including a fair share of those who wear a badge and carry a gun. I saw my fair share.

Too many officers are ill prepared physically and mentally to deal with what happened in Florida. From the photos I saw of the school officer in Florida it was obvious he was overweight, and I’ll bet out of shape. And after 10 years as a school resource officer, plenty of donuts and cookies in the teacher’s lounge and being a glorified hall monitor with a Glock, he may have very well lost any combat edge he might have had at one time?

And this brings me back to the sheriff of Broward County. The deputies involved worked for him. Just like the shooter is a product of a failed system, the deputies who look like they dropped the ball are products of his system. The failure “buck,” stops with the sheriff.

The bigger question that isn’t being talked about is are today’s police officers really ready for urban combat? The more focused question I’d ask the police chiefs in Mesa and the East Valley is are the school resource officers at the schools there as a gesture of good will and feel good intentions or are they as good as your best SWAT officers when it comes to protecting our children? As we saw in Florida mere presence of a marked police car and uniformed officer at the school didn’t deter a determined and well-prepared attacker.

– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.

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  1. I would like to know when the sheriff found out about shots being fired at the school and what orders he issued or didn’t issue. Ask the officers themselves why they stayed at their cars instead of going in. Put a minimum of one police officer in each school right now. Point being we can select an officer who will do the job. He has the right caliber pistol for the job, extra magazines, body armor and most importantly instant communications to the dispatchers and with responding officers, which may include plain clothes officers. Obviously, better ideas can surface later along with planning, funding and implementation, but at least we are trying to deal with the problem right now which should result in some sense of security for the kids. The desired effect is to put a policeman between the attacker and his intended. The greatest plan in the world ain’t worth a damn until implemented. There may be a few schools where no officers are available, but not very many that can’t find a PD, Sheriff, State officer to plug in until better solutions are found. What crime deserves more prevention than stopping kids from being slaughtered.

  2. Hello Mr. Richardson, I like to follow your comments as you usually tell it the way it is, without the PC. I am sickened by the conduct of the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff, especially sickened by the conduct of the Deputies at the school. I believe the same thing happened at Columbine. The officers stood outside and waited for SWAT.

    I served two tours in Vietnam and 35 years in law enforcement, retiring from Arizona DPS after 25 years at that agency. During my career I observed law enforcement standards continually go down as our society suffers from PC. My take on law enforcement today is: Most police officers never served in the military and the police academies today have taken out most the the military style discipline. I believe this is one reason why our police today are not equipped for any kind of combat.

    I have seen officers on TV defending the school officers conduct, stating that he was following policy as they are to wait for back up. If I had ever conducted myself like that, I do not think I could ever face my loved ones or anyone again, knowing I failed those children when it counted most.

    My first civilian academy (Columbus Ohio) was almost six months long and it was like Marine Corp. boot camp. We started with 50 cadets and just after six weeks, we were down to only 22 of us that graduated. Today, if you hire 50, most likely, they all or most will graduate. They will graduate with their tattooed arms to bear to the public in uniforms that are not uniform. The only place you find disciplined cultured academies is your state police academies back east, where they are proud to wear their traditional uniforms and have command presence and command respect.

    • Hey David, everything that you said to Mr Richardson, you took out of my mind, thanks for that, I couldn’t say any better myself. Back in the days before the affirmative action bs that allow women and homosexuals to come in to put up a police uniform and take police science course , most vet, ex-military men and those that served in the Arm Force were given priority when it came to serve as police because they had combat experience. Now days less than a man and of course bring in the women and homosexuals to apply for police. What a joke, that is the result of this massacre.

  3. With 32 years on law enforcement, my first four in the United States Marine Corp, we need to start working on the urban combat mentality and start weeding out those officers who are not able to gain that mental advantage of being urban combat ready.

    The sheep dog needs to be ready on all fronts. Physical, mental, emotional.


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