Editor's Note: Following up on his excellent article War zone in Wisconsin, PoliceOne Columnist Dan Marcou reports that there is recent news on that particular incident. Robert Bayliss was has been sentenced to 48 years for what the judge described as "a cold blooded, premeditated, and unprovoked" assault on law enforcement officers. Read Marcou's news update below and E-Mail us if you've got a story to share with your fellow officers about the news in your local paper or here on PoliceOne.
In a rural courthouse in Richland County Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, Robert C. Bayliss was sentenced to serve 48 years for an assault on law enforcement officers that lasted days. Like the jury, the judge sat through testimony in this case and recognized that this man’s actions constituted a lethal ambush and an attempt to kill sworn law enforcement officers who were attempting to serve a summons.
The judge considered that Bayliss was a man who reinforced his walls with plates of steel and accumulated ninety weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He decided Bayliss knew exactly who he was shooting act from his prepared position on top of the hill. Bayliss deliberately directed hundreds of rounds of potentially lethal fire at persons he knew to be law enforcement officers.
Luck Favors The Prepared Mind
The first deputies at the scene were protected initially by their immediate movement to cover afforded by the terrain. Later officers were protected by the BearCats brought to the scene or the results may well have been as tragic. The judge recognized that these officers could have been receiving Last Rites; instead because of their actions and preparation they survived a Baptism of fire.
These officers were relentlessly fired upon in the performance of their legal duty. Administrators and team leaders at the scene made difficult decisions under the most difficult circumstances. Initial responding officers and tactical team members showed tremendous courage under fire. The result was a near tactical miracle. Hard as Bayliss tried there were no casualties.
One of the team leaders, Rodney Stearns of the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Response Team, summed up his feelings as he prepared his team for the final move that resulted in the combined teams taking Bayliss into custody alive. Stearns a police trainer, who teaches that “luck favors the prepared mind,” says this situation was different than most police gunfights.
“Typically a gunfight happens within seconds, although we always prepare for that possibility the actual fight happens and is over before you know it. Knowing you are about to enter a gunfight and trying to prepare yourself is a different game...add that to the words you carefully choose to convince those in your command that you will bring them home safe.”
Carefully Choosing Words
After every law enforcement gun fight there are those officers who walk away forever changed. Whether you are a commanding officer, a peer, a family friend, a police trainer, or blogger please choose your words carefully. That officer faced death, made split second decisions and now will have to process what has happened. Your words can be like a balm that soothes or a blade that cuts deeply. Either way, they will be words that will be remembered.
Words For The Honorable Gun-Fighters Who Have Survived
For survivors of critical life and death encounters, who inevitably have had to listen to or will have to listen to the Monday morning quarter-backs, as they drone on with their “would-a-could-a-should-a’s” smile and think this thought, “Thank you God. With your blessings and my actions I have made it to Monday morning.”