Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2007

Sometimes the Commenters Write Better Posts Than I Do

Filed under: Crime,General,Immigration,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:05 am



Apropos yesterday’s post about cops not being allowed to chase bad guys, commenter DRJ informs me of a distressing article from May 2005 with this passage:

Some agents complained that they are rarely allowed to pursue illegal immigrants, regardless of the situation.

“If anyone runs from us, we don’t chase them,” said one California-based border patrol agent who requested anonymity. “We could have information that there is a nuke in the back of a van but we don’t have authority to chase them,” the agent said. “We’ve had radiation pagers go off and we’re still not allowed [by our supervisors] to give chase,” he said. “They are scared to death something will go wrong and there will be a huge liability.”

The border patrol operates under a single pursuit policy, said Andrea Zortman, a border patrol spokeswoman. “Each pursuit is different,” she said. “A case involving a marijuana load is going to be different than pursuing a human trafficker.”

A number of factors are assessed by a local supervisor, including weather, road conditions, and location “and then it falls on the supervisor to determine if [pursuit] is okay,” Zortman said. “We have to be aware of the safety for everyone, our agents, those we are pursuing and anyone nearby.”

A supervisor has to check weather and road conditions before approving a pursuit?? Unbelievable. Commenter JRM immediately illustrated the problem with this policy:

Border Patrol Officer: We’ve got two armed people driving away from us with two kidnapped juveniles in the back of their pickup truck.

Supervisor: OK, I’m checking the weather. What are the road conditions?

BPO: Clear, except for the people who are now driving at 90 miles per hour away from us. We are stopped.

Supervisor: So the kidnappers have guns?

BPO: Well, they did when they left 60 seconds ago. They’re now a mile away.

Supervisor: OK, go chase them!

BPO: Yeah. They’re gone.

These are decisions best left to the officer on the ground. If you can’t trust him to make the call, you can’t trust him to be a peace officer in the first place.

It’s clear that the Administration is not serious about the security of the border, which means it is not serious enough about the safety of the citizenry.

15 Responses to “Sometimes the Commenters Write Better Posts Than I Do”

  1. Maybe those “radiation pagers”(?) were wrong, and the supervisors were right, in that Mexico hasn’t nuked us yet, nor has there been any sort of evidence that anything dangerously nuclear, radiological, or otherwise dangerous (besides the usual drugs or scary Hispanics) have crossed that segment of the border.

    Maybe if you are a border agent and really think there are nukes in the back of the van you should do something about it, I’m sure you will be praised if you are right and of course it is your moral duty to do something about it. If you are freaking out and imagining ghost nukes because you are bored even when your supervisors are telling you they don’t exist, then all you are doing is creating something stupid for patterico to blog about.

    Maybe the quoted border agent is a bit excitable and crazy, and maybe patterico citing a years old scare that never came to anything is just absurd. Just saying.

    Aplomb (b1076c)

  2. Maybe the government is testing mind control rays, beamed from Karl Rove’secret laboratory in the Himalayas, which will make smugglers and illegal aliens turn around and go back as soon as they come within range, and it doesn’t want human agencies confusing the results of the experiment.

    Good job DRJ, JRM and Patterico.

    nk (41da82)

  3. This policy will lead to frustration and agents will either quit trying or take a shot at a routine smuggler who runs away knowing he will not be chased. Then, if they do try to do their job, they see what kind of sentence they get. Looks like lose-lose to me.

    Mike K (416363)

  4. We would have thought this was an exaggeration back in May. Now we know it’s true.

    The future is looking brighter and brighter for Tom Tancredo.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  5. Mike K, you can bet that the Border Patrol agents are looking at other avenues. They know they are not going to be allowed to do their jobs. So what do they do? They apply to other law enforcement agencies like state police, metropolitan department or even private security firms.
    While DHS makes token raids like the one on the Swift Packing plants, they turn their eye on the situation on the border. Instances of BP being shot at, rocked and jumped and beaten are not reported. Mustn’t let the American populace know what a war zone the southern border really is.
    These BP are really our first line of defense and their hands are being tied.

    retire05 (663827)

  6. My family (in-laws) has a large ranch in southern Arizona. After dark, no one goes outside the residential compound. Fortunately, we don’t live there but others do and they know how out of control the border is.

    Mike K (416363)

  7. Mike K, while we hear endless news reports of a girl who disappeared from Aruba, do we ever hear of the Americans who live near the border that are kidnapped? Nope. Do we hear of the new strain of tuberculosis that is appearing at our border hospitals, a strain that is not treatable? Nope. Do we hear about how kids are coming across the border in cars, only to board a school bus and going to our U.S. public schools? Nope. Do we hear how border residents have, like you said, built compounds around their residences to keep out marauding illegals that would steal the gold out of their teeth? Nope.
    The MSM wants our borders thrown wide open (as if they aren’t already). Remember, those poor people are just coming across to make a living for their families. So what if they have to mug a 24 year old woman for her purse so they can eat at the local hamburger stand? They were hungry. What’s the harm.

    retire05 (663827)

  8. As a police officer, reading Aplomb’s comment makes me shake my head once again and wonder why I continue working this job. He should forward his resume to the Mayor’s Office for consideration for the LAPD Police Commission. He would feel right at home, since he also seems to know nothing about police work but feels confident second guessing those who are doing the job.

    1. “Maybe those ‘radiation pagers'(?) were wrong and the supervisors were right.” I would respond that maybe the pagers were right and the supervisors were wrong. We just don’t know. Because unlike what Aplomb seems to think, most police work does not deal in certainty, only probabilities. If police had to wait for absolute certainty before they could act, we could not do our job. This concept is recognized by the courts. I don’t have the space to give a legal lecture, and I would not want to since Patterico could do a better job of it, but a great deal of police work is driven by the concept of “probable cause.” This is loosely defined as what a reasonable person would believe. Notice it is not defined as being right, just being reasonable. So if I am a BP Agent, a vehicle comes through a check point and causes the radiation alarm to go off, and the driver then runs, I think a reasonable person would say this is a situation that needs to be investigated. Aplomb seems to think that, absent absolute certainty that there is something illegal on board, the Agent needs to let the suspect run. Unless of course there really is a device in the back of the vehicle, then Aplomb does want the Agent to take action as is shown by point two.

    2. “Maybe if you are a border agent and really think there are nukes in the back of the van you should do something about it, I’m sure you will be praised if you are right and of course it is your moral duty to do something about it.” This is the kind of thinking from the civilian population that drives police officers absolutely nuts. In his first paragraph, Aplomb second guesses the BP Agent; questioning the “radiation pager”, questioning the whether or not nuclear material might come across the border with Mexico, questioning the Agent’s ability, “Maybe the quoted border agent is a bit excitable and crazy.” But of course Aplomb does not want a dirty bomb ending up in his neighborhood so in his second paragraph he states that the Agent has a moral duty to protect him by stopping the bomber. A reasonable person might ask how this is to be done, since the Agent is not allowed to chase the suspect absent absolute certainty. So in his first paragraph, Aplomb seems to agree with the policy of not chasing this particular suspect, second guesses the Agent showing how he does not have absolute certainty that the there was a nuclear device in the vehicle, but then says the Agent has a moral obligation to protect him.

    I guess Aplomb thinks he is showing the Agent how to act when he says, “Maybe if you are a border agent and really think there are nukes in the back of the van you should do something about it, I’m sure you will be praised if you are right…”. This shows his lack of knowledge of the reality of police work on the streets. There are several scenarios that could play out. 1). The vehicle comes through a check point and the radiation sensors go off. The driver runs. Since the agent can’t go in pursuit without a supervisor’s approval, he makes the request and is denied. If it turns out there was a nuclear device in the vehicle and it is detonated, Aplomb will condemn the Agent because, “…of course it is your moral duty to do something about it.” 2). Same scenario, the supervisor does not give permission to pursue, but the Agent goes in pursuit anyway because, “Maybe if you are a border agent and really think there are nukes in the back of the van you should do something about it, I’m sure you will be praised if you are right and of course it is your moral duty to do something about it.” One of two things will happen under this scenario, either the vehicle will contain a nuclear device or it won’t. If it does not, you can kiss your career goodbye. If it does, you will still be disciplined because you violated department policy. Aplomb’s belief that you will be praised for your actions shows a breathtaking ignorance of the way police departments work. And of course neither of these scenarios looks at what would happen if someone gets seriously injured or killed. If that happens the Agent will be going through hell for the next couple of years under the most optomistic of outcomes.

    So the BP Agents are being asked to control the borders, and make no mistake, if a terrorist managed to smuggle something across and use it, the BP would be slammed. But their hands are being tied making it impossible to do their job. And people like Aplomb will be standing there ready to condemn them either way. It is a no win situation.
    And so, as retire05 points out, BP Agents are leaving for other agencies. Unfortunately, I’m afraid they are going to find the same BS where ever they go.

    Paul (1c8cfb)

  9. the agent in jrm’s fantasy exchange is a little confused. if the kidnappers were driving away at ninety miles per hour, after sixty seconds they would be a mile and a half away.

    assistant devil's advocate (2c91af)

  10. “the agent in jrm’s fantasy exchange is a little confused. if the kidnappers were driving away at ninety miles per hour, after sixty seconds they would be a mile and a half away.

    Comment by assistant devil’s advocate”

    A little physics might help. Not much use in law school but speed = acceleration x time. Distance = 1/2 acceleration x time squared. Unless you have a top fuel dragster, you won’t get to 90 instantaneously and maybe not even then.

    Mike K (416363)

  11. This PC policing sounds like the Rules of Engagement problem in Iraq. What is the point of spending millions for defense and sending men and women into battle if you are not going to allow them to fight–or even to defend themselves? the media will always hate the military and the Republicans, so let the military and the police do their jobs!

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/ has a good roundup.

    Patricia (5b7822)

  12. Patterico:

    “It’s clear that the Administration is not serious about the security of the border, which means it is not serious enough about the safety of the citizenry.”

    Amen.

    DRJ (f4c219)

  13. If you still support sending the Texas Agents to prison, you are contributing to the policy. When you attempt to enforce the border, you get a drug dealer offered immunity, prison terms and five million dollar law suits. You cannot claim to be serious about border security either.
    I normally agree with most of what is written here, but the jailling of Agents for technical violations simply encourages both Agents and their bosses, up to and including the President, to do the easy thing and leave the border open.

    Ken Hahn (ccd95c)

  14. And that is one of the reasons why I will not be watching the president speak tomorrow night.

    rightisright (2fce83)

  15. […] are home free because the border patrol is forbidden to detain illegals away from the border (they aren’t allowed to chase them, either) and the rest of the US acts as a 3 million square mile […]

    Ten Reasons The Amnesty/Immigration Surge Bill Is Appalling « The T.R.U.T.H. Project (8cdc9b)


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