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Ron Speakman’s Community View article last week [“The expanding militarization of Loudoun’s Sheriff’s Office”] is inaccurate, deceptive and irresponsible.

By inaccurate, I submit the following: First, Speakman omitted pointing out in his opening paragraph that in both fatal shootings by Loudoun deputies, the suspects were armed with knives, refused repeated commands to disarm and were advancing on the deputies when shot. In the case of the 2013 Costco shooting, non-lethal force (TASER) was employed to no effect prior to the shooting. Further, Speakman omitted to mention that in the Costco shooting, an investigation by the commonwealth’s attorney ruled the shooting justified (the second shooting occurred earlier this month and the investigation on that shooting is pending). These are all salient facts Speakman should have provided to your readers up front, but they don’t fit his narrative.

Second, Speakman implies that “the P320 Sig Sauer, which is designed for the military” is somehow functionally different from the .40 caliber pistol currently issued to Loudoun County deputies. Both weapons are semi-automatic pistols with high-capacity magazines. The primary difference is in the size of the round fired. As a historical note, the FBI and many law enforcement organizations dropped .38 caliber/9mm weapons from their inventories following a horrendous shootout in Miami in 1986 that left two FBI agents dead and five wounded. Analysis of that gun battle led the FBI to conclude that the revolvers and pistols used by agents lacked the stopping power needed to protect the agents and the public. The FBI initially moved to 10mm pistols, and then to .40 caliber weapons in an attempt to correct the problem. Incidentally, with improvements to 9mm ammunition stopping power, the FBI is now readopting the 9mm as a service weapon.

Third, Speakman claims that “with the right police firearm, the deputy probably could of [sic] only shot once and possibly saved a life.” That continues the old Roy Rogers myth of the 1930s that shooting to disarm or lightly wound a suspect ends the confrontation. In both shooting incidents Speakman cites, it is reported that it took multiple hits before either suspect was disabled. As was vividly illustrated in the autopsy of Michael Brown, of 2014 Ferguson fame, marksmanship can decline during a violent encounter. Discounting the hand wound Brown received when he initially attempted to disarm Officer Wilson and the final, fatal head shot that ended the encounter, Brown was shot at least four times and possibly as many as six times. That created six wounds, none of them disabling. In reality, unlike Hollywood fantasy, just hitting a suspect does not necessarily mean he will go down. The sad reality is that consistently stopping an attacker requires either a hit to the central nervous system (brain/spine) or else inflicting massive blood loss.

Autopsy results on Michael Platt, one of two suspects killed in the 1986 Miami FBI shooting, concluded that the first wound he received resulted in his eventual death. However, Platt continued the gun fight for approximately five minutes, was shot an additional 11 times and managed to kill two FBI agents and wound several more following his initial injury. Disabling blood loss can take time.

By deceptive, I point out that Speakman implies that deputies armed with 9mm weapons will shoot more rapidly and fire more rounds than if they were equipped with the current .40 caliber side arms, or some unnamed “right police firearm.” Based on what? Given the similarities in both function and magazine capacity, that argument is specious and Speakman, as a trained law enforcement officer, knows it.

Finally, and most irresponsible, is Speakman’s claim that issuing pistols “designed for the military” and what he describes as “combat gear” (presumably body armor, webbing to place equipment within easy reach of the officer and possibly AR-style rifles) creates a “militarized culture” that “is why Americans are witnessing these horrific unnecessary shootings.” How absurd. What is creating these shootings is a violent subculture of lawlessness, egged on by George Soros-funded organizations trying to create unrest for political purposes. While there have been some disgusting examples of out-of-control police violence, the vast majority of times where law enforcement uses deadly force, it is found to be justified. Does Speakman disagree with this, or think the same can be said for any of the recent murders/assassinations of law enforcement officers? I don’t think he means that, but that is exactly what he implied with his claim. That’s grossly irresponsible, particularly in the racially-charged atmosphere currently found throughout the country.

Chris Phillips

Sterling

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