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Hard Lessons: LE, Self Reliance and Dying Well

A few days ago a judge ruled that the Broward County Sheriff's office had no duty to protect the students at Stoneman Douglas Highschool during an active shooter event which left 17 people dead, tossing out the lawsuit filed against the Sheriff's office and the coward, seen in the above still photo from a surveillance video outside of the school, while the shooting was going on.  I knew that whatever happened that day would end up in front a court, as a community in mourning will eventually try to find fault with someone, or some organization.  I wrote about the issues outside of the ones which I will reference today in a short article - Why are our schools not prepared? and Why cowards should NEVER wear the badge.  There are several issues we need to unpack before we move onto the meat of this particular ruling, what it means legally, and what the moral/ethical considerations are irrespective of it.

When you first read that the judge said the police have no duty to protect the citizens of their particular community you probably had a knee jerk "wtf" type of reaction, however, there is a legitimate reason that legally the police cannot be bound to protect every single person from violent crime from another person.  There are several, precedent setting, cases which need to be referenced in order to get the legal side of this explained.  Warren V. D.C. where two POS criminals broke into a residence of three women and, at knife-point, robbed, raped and did other unspeakable things to them.  That court ruled that the police had no duty to protect those three women, due to lack of a special relationship.  A special relationship between the police department (and/or the state/gov to a greater degree) is defined as a prisoner in a jail, a patient being held in a hospital against their will by the state/gov and/or someone who is under the care of the state/gov and cannot protect themselves due to the type of custody which they are in.  Another case which applies here is DeShaney V. Winnebago City which was specifically about the due process clause, namely 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (PDF, starts at the bottom right under § 1983. "Section 1983" basically allows a person to sue the department and/or the government (local/state/fed, as needed) for the actions of a police officer, so long as their actions were deemed "under the color of law."  Whenever you hear about a lawsuit being filed against a department for the actions of a particular officer, and that department accepts that the officer was acting "under the color of law" they are liable for the actions of that officer and cannot allow that officer to be held personally liable for those actions, as long as that officer's actions were not negligent or willfully committed outside the scope of their employment/duties.  The above legal precedents and rules are designed around removing the responsibility of the government to protect you.

What the students of Stoneman Douglas Highschool, their parents, that community and the larger general community of the USA discovered something on the day that POS walked in and started shooting people is that the police are not there to protect them.  The legal precedents clearly exonerate the police, as a duty to protect everyone is a duty to protect no one.  The police in the USA have a duty to protect their respective community, the whole community, and not any one specific person inside that community, unless they have a "special relationship" (see above), this means that it falls directly in the lap of the average citizen to protect themselves.  The only "duty" to protect which exists, legally speaking, is of a citizen, themselves and theirs.  This is where it becomes extremely clear what those who want to take away our natural rights to protect ourselves think about the average citizen and how the average citizen should live.  The only person responsible for your safety is you, this gets pretty murky when we start to talk about those citizens who are not legally allowed to own and/or carry firearms on their person, such as students in a highschool.

Former Deputy Scot Peterson, pictured above, took an oath when he first became a LEO at the Broward Sheriff's office.  I know this because every single LEO in the entire US took an oath.  While many differ from each other, the overarching concept is the same, honor, duty, service and never disgracing the badge.  All of those things can be summed up into one very specific concept, Dying Well.  Dying Well is a concept which incorporates various facets of moral/ethical conduct, integrity and responsibility to yourself and others.  It has to do with holding yourself infinitely accountable for your actions and ignorance alike.

While former Deputy Scot Peterson did not have a legal duty to protect the students at that highschool, he had every moral and ethical obligation to do so.  Beyond that obligation, he swore an oath to that responsibility, yet there is a photo, right above that shows him standing outside, while his honor faded away.  Former Deputy Scot Peterson can no longer die well, he has given up that privilege, relinquishing it for a longer life of diminished self worth.  For a LEO, to die well should be one of the most powerful driving forces behind doing the job.  It has to be, as anything short of that is not only undermining the oath, but the overall ability to do the job effectively.  I am not talking about a suicide pact as part of dying well is to be trained enough to understand your own limitations and act accordingly.  It does not, however, allow for a LEO to stand idle while those who cannot protect themselves get slaughtered.  Dying well for a LEO is as important as the oath we took the day we got our badges pinned to our uniforms.  This becomes exceedingly obvious when contrasted against those instances where LEO's rushed in and did put themselves in harms way with the specific purpose of doing what they knew they had to.

This makes my blood boil, this is unacceptable. These types of situations are why we train to the highest possible standards, this is why we hold ourselves to the highest levels. Shooting our own is unacceptable. While I understand that officer who killed Sgt. Helus is devastated, he has all the right reasons to be, and unfortunately, this is the worst type of lesson learned the hardest possible way, in the blood of a brother in arms doing what he knew he had to do. Teach your people how to shoot and hold them to a high level accountability. Train hard, under stress and often. . @vdmsr . #endofwatch #police #odmp #officerdownus #thinblueline #policeofficer #lawenforcement #officerdown1199 #sheriff #america #thinbluelinefamily #officerdownmemorialpage #backtheblue #swat #usa #officerdown #k9
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Sgt. Helus rushed into an active shooter knowing that he was soon to retire, he got his rifle out and engaged the POS, taking rounds in the process and was regrettably killed by friendly fire.  Deputy Gaskill, rushed in and immediately engaged an active shooter in an MD highschool.  Officer Dallas, heard the shots in an IL highschool and chased the shooter, exchanging gunfire with him until successfully apprehending him.  Officer Jiminez, who had less than two years on the job engaged an active shooter in a Chicago hospital and, after exchanging gunfire, died of his wounds but stopped the threat.  These officers are just a small sample of LEOs doing what they knew they had to do, regardless of possible consequences, just this year.  Some of them died well, and will be forever remembered for their actions.  Some of them survived and will live on to inspire others with their actions, the only one that stood there and did nothing was former Deputy Scot Peterson.

Dying Well is not limited to LEOs, it is a universal concept which applies to everyone equally, regardless of ignorance.  The average responsible armed citizen is someone who took it upon themselves to train, to carry a firearm and other tools, as well as, to develop their mindset so that they can effectively act when the time comes to do so.  The responsible armed citizen has as much of a responsibility to themselves and their tribe as a person can have.  We all have real world responsibilities which we cannot escape from, parents to their children, neighbors to each other, members of a community to their respective community.  That is something which cannot be disregarded as it is a responsibility which exists regardless of acknowledgement.  As such, it needs to be taken very seriously and accepted seamlessly.

In 2017 there was an older gentleman walking down a street in urban Cleveland, another man, unknown at the time, approached the older gentleman streaming the interaction on Facebook and shot the older gentleman killing him.  He then made various statements over social media stating he would do it again.  Consider for a moment that this is your community, that old man was someone who lived in your community.  Maybe you did not know him personally, but you have seen him around, or you know someone who knew him.  Consider what your actions would be if you knew this murderous POS is on the loose in your community.  What would you do?  Would you go about your business as normal? Would you expect the police to handle it?  Would you be diligent in your daily affairs?  Whose responsibility is it, to ultimately stop this POS from killing others in your community?  In this particular case the POS was chased by police and, as a coward always does, he committed suicide before the police could stop him.

The video above shows a retired LEO who stopped his car and saved a child from being hit by other motorists.  He didn't know the child or family, all he knew was he had to act.  It was his responsibility to do so the moment he saw that child and he did not hesitate.

In 2012, in Aurora CO, a POS walked into a theater and opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd of people watching a premier film.  No one was armed because of a sign on the front door of the theater, no one returned fire.  Consider for a moment you were in that theater, and you were doing your due diligence as a responsible armed citizen.  Maybe you were with a family member, what would you do?  At that moment whose responsibility is it to take action and stop the threat?  What if you were sitting near an exit, you could easily sneak out not have to take any action at all.  Is that something you could live with after seeing the never ending videos and reports of victims in the theater you left behind?  Is that something you could live with?  Dying Well means you always take the road of  hard choices, it means you stand up and get in the fight when the situation arises, especially so when the situation involves an immediate deadly force threat.  As a responsible armed citizen, do believe you have the moral and ethical duty to act knowing that you can affect a situation positively?

I will leave you with several quotes on what dying well means to each of these highly respected instructors and practitioners in the training industry.

"A warrior lives his life in such a way so that his last breath is still one with honor, this is to die well."

-Tuhon Thomas Kier

"Dying well is the last lesson you get to teach the world, dying well is the last stage of living well."
- Tuhon Harley Elmore
"Living an honorable life building a life that you do not have to retire from and not fearing death".
-The Northman
"Dying well is a product of living well, and only happens when you are following God's plan for your life.  Then you can live with a readiness to face death."
-Bill Rapier