May 14, 2001
Recently, in an area on the East Coast, an inordinate number of police-officer- involved shootings have taken place. As a result, several suspects have been fatally injured. Newspapers in the area, quoting local "community activists," have editorialized that, with all these shootings by police, "any citizen" could find himself dodging police bullets, for no apparent reason at all!
Responding to the newspaper editorial, a Los Angeles Deputy District
Attorney, who is obviously community minded, submitted a five-point
The plan is designed to assist citizens, who might otherwise be randomly shot by police, in staying out of the path of police bullets.
The newspaper never printed it, but I thought you might appreciate it,
even if they didn't.
"I've devised a five-point plan to help citizens avoid being shot by police. This plan may not prevent all shootings, but very few will take place when the plan is rigorously adhered to. So, here are the rules:
1. DON'T COMMIT VIOLENT CRIMES. I know this seems elementary, but this rule is lost on many. They do the crime, get shot, and then wonder how it could possibly happen. They whine that it is so unfair. Well, Slick, violent crime, like jumping in front of moving cars, is just a high-risk occupation, and, in case you missed it, committing violent
crimes make police officers think you may not be a good person.
2. If you ignore rule No. 1, and the police do confront you, DON'T RUN AWAY FROM THEM. I know it's hard to believe, but that may make them think you're guilty of something. Hiding in bushes or closets makes some cops very nervous. They might even foolishly conclude that you're up to no good!
3. If you disregard rules 1 and 2, and the cops catch up with you anyway and inform you that you are under arrest, DON'T MAKE FAST MOVEMENTS WITH YOUR HANDS. I know it sounds silly, but grabbing a shiny beer can, a dark-colored wallet, or one of those snazzy and real-looking replica guns may make police officers mistakenly believe that you are about to hurt them.
4. If you disregard rules 1, 2, and 3, and manage to get what looks like a deadly weapon into your hands, DON'T POINT IT AT THE COPS. We all know that you're basically a nice person, but that may be lost on the police officers confronting you. In their paranoia, they may even believe they need to protect themselves.
5. If you disregard rules 1, 2, 3, and 4, DON'T BE ASTONISHED IF THE COPS DO NOT INSTANTLY TURN INTO YOUR PERSONAL CONFIDANTE. They may be too preoccupied to realize that you're normally a splendid person and that you're just having a bad day. They may be too preoccupied to see that when you point a weapon at them in a threatening manner, it is just your way of crying out for help. We both know that the whole problem can be traced
to the fact that your mother didn't breast feed you, but some police officers
are so cynical they just don't see it.
So, there you have it. If you really apply yourself and obey even some of the rules listed above, I bet you'll avoid the vast majority of police gunfire."