Friday, January 28, 2011

Snipers On the Roof

So last night I'm flipping through channels on the TV and, for about 5 minutes or so, I happen on one of those programs that feature police videos. The viewer sees a vehicle driving way too fast and erratically. In short order, there are 15 police cars and one helicopter following him. The driver gets to a stretch of road in which he borders the ocean. It's about 100 feet below the road over a cliff.

All of a sudden, the driver veers off the road. It is fairly apparent that he is attempting to drive off the cliff, but the guard rail keeps the car from going over the side. A man jumps out waving a gun so the officers can see it and then points it at his own temple.

At this juncture, the camera shows several snipers ascending a nearby building and the officers from the 15 cars spread out with guns drawn. In a matter of moments, we see a SWAT team arrive.

Here's my question: What is the purpose of the snipers? Our friendly narrator (I believe it's one of the officers in the helicopter) tells us that it's obvious the man wants to kill himself. He has not made one aggressive move toward the officers and there are no innocent bystanders nearby, yet there is a group sharpshooters on a roof with this man in their sights.

The narrator continues by telling us the police want to do everything possible to keep the man from harming himself. So, why the need for snipers? Do they want to shoot him before he can shoot himself?

After peppering the poor fellow with numerous rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas, the SWAT team moves in and apprehends him without further incident.

But why the snipers? At the risk of a very bad pun, isn't that a bit of overkill?


  1. Why? Because you don't know what's going to happen. What if he dragged someone from the back seat and held the gun to her head? Grabbed one of the cops and held the gun to his head? ... Snipers are not magic wands, but not having one when you need one can be a disaster, and you usually do not know you need one until seconds before their shot; too late for them to get into position.

    SWAT is frequently overused, snipers not so much.

  2. My question is, why do you watch this cop porn anyway? (I would recommend a good martial arts movie....)

  3. hTom,

    The helicopter view made it readily apparent he was alone in the car. Besides, there were officers from the 15 cars with guns trained on him. You can only kill a fellow so many times!

    He couldn't have grabbed anyone -- much less an officer -- because they were too far away. If he had charged them, he would have been cut down by a valley of fire 25 feet before he had even reached the nearest one.

    I tarried on this channel solely because I couldn't figure out why 15 cop cars and a helicopter were following one car.

  4. surfing, rubbernecking.

    Did it ever indicate why they had given chase in the first place?

  5. Yes, the fifteen cops can shoot whom they believe to be the bad guy hundreds of times and he then dies. In the two seconds it takes the bad guy to die, he can kill someone else. The job of the sniper is to prevent that killing by putting one round through the bad guy's brain so that he does nothing; no conscious act, no reflexive pull of trigger, or push of button. It's different than a group of people shooting at the bad guy. It is intentionally killing the bad guy, dead, with one shot,
    before he knows he's being shot at, in an attempt to prevent other deaths that would occur within seconds. Not usually the case where fifteen cops each empties his sidearm into their victim; one of them shoots, the rest follow.

    You place the sniper so you can choose to use him if you need to, like putting a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and auto. You don't want to have kitchen fires or auto fires, but you want them put out as quickly and safely as possible. When the fire starts, it's too late to buy the extinguisher and put it in place to be used.

    I didn't see the chase, but I strongly suspect that the use of fifteen officers was excessive. Placing a sniper and spotter was not. You seem (to me) to be decrying what was done correctly.


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