Policing an armed society takes a degree of vigilance unknown to the rest of the world


It’s really difficult to police an armed society. Compared to other western countries, police officers in the United States have to do their job with a higher degree of vigilance than in just about any other country.

Most of us know the constables in Great Britain don’t even carry firearms. If they need a gun, they call an armed response unit to help out. In Germany, where there is a higher degree of gun ownership, the police officers carry firearms; the difference is they are policing a population that doesn’t use guns to kill people at the same rate we do here. There were 130 people killed by firearms in Germany in 2015. Compare that to well over 11,000 people killed by firearms in the United States in the same year.

What does this mean for police officers in the United States? It means you have to be careful. Very careful. Because you just never know. Take, for example, last week when Downey police officers attempted to pull over a homicide suspect. The suspect decided he wasn’t going down easy and a rolling gun battle over urban freeways and city streets ensued. The live video of the pursuit was broadcast nationwide in real time so everyone could share in the experience.

In a commendable effort, the officers managed to engage the suspect after he was stopped by traffic. After an exchange of gunfire he was taken into custody. The suspect suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound and died several days later.

Tragically, this past week an officer was killed and two people were wounded in Auburn, Al. Officer  William Buechner was murdered when officers responded to a domestic violence call. The suspect ambushed the officers and fled the scene wearing body armor and a helmet. He was eventually taken into custody after fleeing the area.

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, Auburn, AL Officer William Buechner responded to a domestic violence call. Upon arrival he and his partners came under fire. Buechner was killed in the ensuing gun battle. Two other Auburn officers were wounded. The suspect was taken into custody the next day after a search of the area. Buechner was married and leaves behind his wife and two children.

Encountering firearms while doing police work in the United States is an every day occurrence. The fact that the majority of these encounters are safely resolved with no injury to the officers or the suspects is a testament to the officers’ vigilance and training.

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May 14, 2019 at approximately 3:15 pm, one of our officers stopped a vehicle in the Target parking lot, for vehicle code violations. The vehicle was occupied by 6 people. One of the passengers immediately fled from the vehicle on foot and was chased by another officer, who just happened to be in the area. Additional officers responded and all the occupants of the vehicle were detained. The suspect who fled on foot was caught inside Target. He was found to be in possession of a stolen handgun and was on probation for robbery. He was arrested. The driver of the vehicle had a warrant and was also arrested. #BPPD #BuenaParkPD #gun #firearm #FootPursuit #proactivity #CrimePrevention #FelonyLurking

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Take, for example, two incidents in the Cities of Garden Grove and Buena Park. The agencies shared on their Instagram accounts the seizure of stolen firearms after officers attempted to make car stops. In both encounters the suspects fled while armed. In both cases the guns were stolen. In both incidents no one was shot or injured.

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Over the weekend, #GardenGrovePD Officers attempted to stop a reckless driver, as the vehicle traveled in opposing traffic on Brookhurst. The driver ultimately stopped and was seen running from the car. After a short foot pursuit, the subject was taken into custody without incident. During their search of the car, Officers discovered it was the suspect vehicle from an earlier "subject with a gun" call. As Officers conducted the investigation, a security guard from a nearby business called 9-1-1 to report he had found a bag with a rifle inside, in the middle of the road. (The suspect had discarded the rifle as he fled the scene.) He was later booked for several firearms violations and heroin sales. #GGPD32 #GoToJailTired #teamwork #NotOnOurWatch #OneLessGun #SeeSomethingSaySomething

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The vigilance with which officers have to operate is a reality of police work here in the United States. It is something often overlooked by critics, politicians, and Monday morning quarterbacks. It’s something that needs to be taken into account whenever we decide to judge the officers’ actions.