In Which I Defend the Fresno Police Department

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

I do sympathize with this fellow and his wife. Must’ve been a pretty harrowing situation. I don’t doubt that his wife was probably pretty traumatized, and certainly she’s in no way to blame for what happened.

But based only on his account, it seems to me that the Fresno police deserve some praise here. A car thief fled into an apartment building. And instead of calling out the SWAT team, kicking down doors, or deploying concussion grenades, they simply surrounded the place, used an amplified intercom, and tried to coerce the suspect out without confrontation. They didn’t throw his wife to the ground, rough her up, or humiliate her. Once they realized she wasn’t a threat, they were apparently quite kind and polite to her. I’m not sure how they could have handled it any better.

I highlight a lot of bad police behavior on this site. But I do think it’s important to note that there are times when innocent people are going to traumatized through no fault of their own, and through no fault of the cops. In this case, it seems hard to cast blame on anyone other than the fleeing suspected car thief.

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11 Responses to “In Which I Defend the Fresno Police Department”

  1. #1 |  Andy Stedman | 


    If you were chasing a car thief (not a mass murderer, rapist, kidnapper) would you have the right to do what the police did?

  2. #2 |  Packratt | 

    I agree, it is nice to see that some police departments still encourage their officers to conduct themselves appropriately, it sets an example and I do wish there were more stories like this to tell.

    …of course, it sadly speaks volumes that there aren’t.

  3. #3 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 


    Not that I am a police sympathizer, but maybe it just doesn’t make the news most of the time when the cops do their job properly.

  4. #4 |  J sub D | 

    Radley, it’s nice to see you give credit where credit is due. It speaks well of you. Many advocates of causes don’t have that sort of honesty.

    Why isn’t there a preview option here? I’m an HTML idjit and need all the help I can get. ;-(

  5. #5 |  Lior | 

    they simply surrounded the police

    That should be “surrounded the place”, right?

  6. #6 |  troy | 

    When cops act with a modicum of humanity, that should be reported too.

  7. #7 |  Packratt | 

    Johnny, the definition of “police doing their job properly” varies from department to department. Here in Seattle the department policies state it’s perfectly fine to shatter a 125 lb girl’s face by leg-sweeping and shoving her face first into the pavement for nothing more than giving legal advice to someone being taken into custody.

    In other areas, it might be a bit more civilized… So, I should have been more clear and said that it’s nice to see a department where officers are trained to be more professional and restrained… but you’ll have to forgive me since my brain doesn’t work as well as it did before my encounter with the police here.

  8. #8 |  Pat Lynch | 

    Agree with RB, sometimes in life you can get screwed and have nobody to blame. Life’s not fair.

  9. #9 |  David Chesler | 

    Mark suggested the cops could have knocked on the door. They could also have telephoned. I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Pointing a gun at someone is an awesome power, and it comes with a comparable responsibility.

  10. #10 |  OGRE | 

    I would agree that the conduct of the police in this instance is perfectly reasonable and appropriate. It is of course unfortunate that this woman was subjected to this experience, but the blame does not lie with the police here.

    I note that the police here did properly restrain themselves from barging into the home without a warrant. My understanding is that, although it might vary among jurisdictions, the police would need a search warrant (to search for the suspect) in a private residence even if in hot pursuit so long as the suspect is not believed to be a danger.

    I applaud the police here for not barging into the residence without a warrant. In many other places this situation could have become a virtual nightmare very quickly….

  11. #11 |  maddiemae414 | 

    Considering the most recent behavior of the Fresno Police Department and the homeless man……all good that can be brought forth from this incident is completely overshadowed by one ignorant officer and his partner that should not be employed by this department ever. I will be completing a masters in the criminal justice this year and was clearly appauled by this officer’s behavior regardless as to earlier circumstances. Beating the homeless????