Everyone's heard of the case of the Oklahoma reserve deputy sheriff who shot someone when he meant to use his Taser – and of how his training has suddenly become an issue. A friend and associate posted a news story link on social media in which the deputy's attorney released the deputy's training records to the media.
I'm not going to cast aspersions on the attorney – he could have been acting on orders from his client. Already suspected of less than precise judgement in use of force, it wouldn't be surprising that he ordered the lawyer to do so.
Likewise, I'm not going to tell you about you and your attorney speaking with media after a force incident. I shouldn't have to. The discussion went to training records and some light was shed along with a little heat.
The news story mentioned that two years of agency training records were missing, amongst them records of firearms qualification. I wasn't aware that the issue was that the deputy missed
, making me question the relevance of that line of inquiry.
You may notice throughout my writing going back about 20 years or so that I often use various firearms qualification courses and training drills when evaluating new firearms. I know someone else may have to run a similar test as a condition of employment. Besides, the qualification test is a "documentable standard of achievement." The question becomes "what exactly are you qualified to do?"
That aside, an argument can be made – as Greg Ellifritz did online recently – that a jury could be persuaded that you were qualified to carry a gun because you passed a test that cops have to pass. There may be something to that.
The real threat is relying on someone else to (1) provide the training – if you are an employee – or have it mandated – if you're a citizen trying to get a permit, and (2) expecting them to actually have the records available for use in the civil or criminal proceedings.
Dave Spaulding likes to tell you that you must be a participant in your own rescue. I'd add something I saw elsewhere – you are responsible for your own salvation. No one else will be there to do it for you.
And don't talk to media.
As to the "silver band," I was at an appointment a few days ago and a young man, an employee of the place, asked me if I'd served in the military. Confused, as I often find myself, I said I'd had an undistinguished term of enlistment in the Army in my youth. He said he'd done five years and that he asked because of my bracelet. The bracelet, a band of stainless steel, was etched with the following inscription:
"PFC Steven H. Bennefeld USMC 7-29-67 SVN"
In the closing months of the 1960s, a pair of young ladies – Carol Bates and Kay Hunter – started a project that would lead to remembrance of POW/MIA from our involvement in Vietnam. They'd seen a celebrity (later Congressman) now known as "B-1" Bob Dornan wearing a bracelet made by tribesmen in Vietnam. When questioned, he said he wore the bracelet so he'd not forget the suffering experienced by so many in that war.
They began production of bracelets which they sold at nominal cost for just that purpose – to never forget.
The ½" wide stainless steel bracelet I wear is the second
version of the one I started with around 35 or so years ago. By 1994 or so, the original was beaten up and the serviceman's info – a Marine PFC from Girard, Kans. I'd met when I was a kid before he went into the Marines – was all but illegible. Marine veteran and Shawnee Co. Sheriff's sergeant Mike Sweet overheard me discussing the sad condition of my MIA bracelet.
He told me what a replacement would cost. I gave him the money and still wear that bracelet – itself now in sad condition – today.
As I spoke with that young man, it was apparent that he was not glad to be out – something to do with unfinished business. He was out of the service, though, starting a family and this new job. I'll tell you what I told him.
We don't always choose to leave at the particular time and place the outfit "disinvites" us. It's the hand we're dealt. A mil vet and one with long experience is known to say that "you can love the job, but the job will never
love you back." I share that experience.
I know that we take things from service that no one can take from us; lessons learned, commitment to ideals, loyalty. Quickness to action and deliberation balanced to environment and circumstance. These are things this young man brings to his new life and things he needs to use to be successful.
He'd sustained injuries in service, said he was "broken." He mentioned PTSD. This is nothing to take lightly. I've seen it in LE, it's commonplace in this era of long military deployments and uncertainties in leadership.
We don't do these things for the flag, for country, community – when we're in the thick of it, we're there for our comrades. You're there for your buddy as he's there for you.
Get involved in local veterans groups, help at the VA when you can and in whatever way you can. Serving as a mentor in this regard is a local police officer who takes her therapy dog to the nearby VA hospice to comfort those vets who are well on the way to the final ETS.
Rough detail? I can't even imagine how hard it is. The therapy runs both ways though and this is real service – to those who gambled it all through their military service.
I gave him my card and instructions to call me any time he needed to; I told him he's not alone – and he's not. I asked him to be available for others who face the same threat just as I am for him. Peer counseling is very powerful. Therapy runs both ways.
("Private First Class Bennefeld was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. On July 29, 1967, he was killed by small arms fire while fighting in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam.")
POW-MIA Families –Bracelets, Flags
-- Rich Grassi