When some juvenile hooligans cruised around West Boise Monday brandishing a BB pistol it had all the makings of a fatal chain of errors.
As it turned out no one was shot, but a 10-year-old girl was traumatized, a copper crashed a cruiser, the gunman was sent to juvenile detention leaving a path of horror and destruction in his wake.
We suspect there were some miscues by dispatch, the victim’s mother, and coppers. As usual in this type of incident the names of the juveniles are withheld, actions of the copper who crashed are “under investigation,” and any action determining error by the copper will be treated as a “personnel matter.”
–Mom called police when she got word from daughter that someone in a car had pointed a gun at her. Hard to take as a parent, but daughter was safe at school after relaying a good description of the suspect car. DID MOM MAKE IT CLEAR TO DISPATCH the incident was “cold” by at least twenty minutes since the girl had boarded a bus and gone to school after being targeted?
–Did dispatch make it clear the incident was cold when the call was relayed to coppers in the field? Was there more than one call to dispatch?
–Coppers who located the vehicle were perfectly within their rights and procedure to make a “felony stop.” That is the typical gunpoint apprehension, blocking traffic, shouting commands, etc. If the kid had pointed the BB gun at them he would be dead at this time.
–Did first contact officers go on “auto pilot” or did they take in the apparent age of the kids, the gender (at least one girl was along), time of day, location, etc. There are hundreds of “what ifs and unknowns,” but the difference between, “We got the car and it looks like four juveniles,” and an urgent cry for help can push the adrenaline of back up coppers to the critical point.
–Driving too fast without emergency flashers and siren activated can lead to collisions as evidenced in this case. There is no excuse for driving faster to a “felony stop” than to an injury traffic accident or family fight. Six months ago an officer totaled a squad car and a civilian vehicle on 13th Street rushing to back up a colleague who didn’t communicate clearly the nature of a call for back up.
We have an acting ombudsman at the present time and no word from City Council when or if a replacement will be advertised and hired. Meanwhile the elements we outlined all need to be addressed. The good news is all the kids, coppers, and drivers are still alive and no one got shot.
EDITOR NOTE—Please make comments regarding the incident and not a blanket bash of coppers. This incident is serious on many fronts and needs intelligent discussion.
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