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Cup of Common Sense, Anyone?

September 1, 2023
Tracy McCray - SFPOA President

Well, it happened again, another establishment refused service to an officer in uniform. I guess wanting a cup of coffee while working your shift in uniform is just too much for people. You would think if that were the company policy that the establishment would have the guts to post it so everyone can see it. Simply put it out there that you refuse service to any uniformed armed law enforcement officer that comes into your establishment so that we can spend our money elsewhere. The policy covers any police officer, deputy sheriff, any federal officers, armed private security, military etc.

If you want to stand by your principles, then let everyone see it. Do not be afraid or ashamed of it. Own it. I can respect that, though I disagree. I respect it when people stand up for their convictions and beliefs. I would rather not have the members that I represent try to navigate which establishments will welcome them. Being told we will not serve you because of what you are wearing seems like bias. It is not ok to have biases anymore unless you have biases against police officers and the entire profession.

As human beings we are all flawed in one way or another and no one is perfect. As law enforcement officers, we must check our biases, but we deal with other peoples’ biases about us all the time. Especially now, it seems about the uniform and weapon. I mean would you not service a gardener who has clipping shears? A mechanic with a large metal wrench? Firefighters, doctors, nurses are always ok.

The explanation that it is really about gun violence in society and therefore they do not want uniforms and firearms is bull. They do not want police officers period. Their previous signage encouraging African Americans to not call the police shows their true intentions. I cannot think of one time in the history of policing, that a police officer just went in and shot up a coffee establishment for the hell of it. The news is full of people who have gone into coffee establishments, groceries stores, clothing stores, etc and have shot up those places killing innocent people, the latest one on the news happened in Jacksonville FL.

So, when the Director of People and Culture (is that a thing?) emails back that this is the company’s policy, then own it, make your sign, and display it. We will gladly go elsewhere for a cup of coffee.

Recently I was awoken on a nice Sunday morning, to a multitude of texts regarding a barricaded suspect under a vehicle in the Southern district. The police were called out to a person who had broken into a building and was confronted by the owner who then called the police for help. Because who else are they going to call — the public defender?
As the officers arrived on scene, the suspect took off running away from the officers. While the suspect was running, he fired shots at the pursuing officers; luckily, none of our officers were physically struck by the suspect recklessly firing his weapon. Showing great restraint, none of the pursuing officers returned fire in defense of themselves or others who were in the area. I have my own theories on why the officers did not shoot back when they rightly could have done so and those reading this will have their own conclusions as well.

Anyway, the suspect then dove under a vehicle where he held police at bay for several hours, while intermittently holding the gun to his head and yelling that officers were going to have to kill him. We had our tactical unit, hostage negotiators, allied agencies, etc. all out to help deescalate the situation to a peaceful resolution. After 5 hours, and with a phone call to a neighboring agency for the use of their robot as an option to end this standoff, our tactical unit made the decision to deploy the 40mm pepper balls and the suspect was taken into custody. I am sure by the time you read this article more facts will have come out, although I doubt it as shooting at a police officer today is barely a foot note in media coverage these days.

I am thankful that I am writing that the suspect was taken into custody by officers, instead of writing that an officer was shot by a fleeing felon who had just committed a crime. However, while I am thankful the officers are physically fine, the reality is that the officers most likely will experience some level of trauma caused when someone shoots at you. That is real and they did nothing to cause that, the suspect bears that responsibility. I have a feeling that our detractors will be more concerned about the housing status of the suspect and whether the amount of force that was used to take him into custody was reasonable, instead of the facts which were: the suspect broke into a place that was not his, he had a weapon on him, and he fired that weapon at officers. It seems like people will be more concerned for the suspect’s mental health instead of the mental health of all the involved parties in this incident. Like I said earlier about bias, it is ok to have bias against the police. It is also ok to ignore any mental health struggles of the police because the police are not allowed to be thought of as people.

And just as things were getting back to a semblance of normalcy for a Sunday, there was another call of a critical incident, this time in the Central district. A father brandished a firearm at his neighbors and then barricaded himself in his apartment with his wife and child. He threatened to shoot if the police tried to enter. Again, the tactical team and hostage negotiators responded to deescalate the situation, in which the suspect eventually let his wife and child out of the apartment, and after another long negotiation, the man surrendered.

Another crisis averted, but these types of calls are becoming more prevalent as mental health calls with a weapon are on the uptick, and the people of this police department are doing their best to resolve each situation peacefully, but the thread holding it all together is fraying and even though our officers did an excellent job of resolving these incidents repeatedly, we will all be villainized as the debate of armed/unarmed responses slumbers along.