Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Note: This appeared in the weekend edition of the Vally City (North Dakota) Times-Record.

Thursday afternoon I got out to the siege of a house outside of a town called Luverne (population 44 on a good day), in Steele County North Dakota (pop. 2,258), just in time to catch the end of it.

There were enough law enforcement officers and firearms to fight a small war it seemed. The Red River SWAT team was out there, called in by Steele County sheriff Wayne Beckman to relieve the Jamestown and Valley City tac teams. I saw Barnes County sheriff Gene Bjerke and Valley City, ND police chief Dean Ross as well.

It ended well, everyone went home.

Not only did the officers not lose any of their own, they didn’t have to kill anyone either, and you could see the relief on their faces.

And this was a very near-run thing. The suspect fired shots from his position and the officers made the decision not to return fire. They had that luxury because they had overwhelming force on their side. There are probably foreign-policy lessons from this, which I won’t beat you over the head with.

Sheriff Beckman, asked by TV news people if this was an average length for a siege, replied good-humoredly, “This is a small little county and it’s not like this happens every day. To me it seemed to take a long time.”

I’ve known rural police and sheriffs in places like Big Bend, Texas and small-town Oklahoma. People think that because bad things don’t happen as much as in the big cities, it must be an Andy Griffith Mayberry sort of job. What gets overlooked is, in large rural areas with low population density, law officers are very often operating a long way from backup. An officer in a hot situation could be twenty or thirty miles from help – if it’s available at all.

Do you know the situations that get the most police officers killed? Drug raids? Bank robberies? Terrorists?

Nope, domestic disturbance calls and routine traffic stops.

This one went well. The local law first contained the threat and called for lots and lots of backup. And in the end all of the good guys went home to their families, the local nut case gets another chance, and I don’t have to point my recorder at a grieving wife or mother and ask stupid questions like, “How do you feel?”

Thanks guys. I know you weren’t thinking of my comfort at the time, but I thank you none the less.


  • At 6:03 PM, Blogger Joseph Sixpack said…

    "... and I don’t have to point my recorder at a grieving wife or mother and ask stupid questions like, 'How do you feel?'"

    So you're not related to Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric.

  • At 3:41 AM, Blogger Ted said…

    Very good.
    I don't buy the whole "f*** da Poh-leece" Libertardian position that points at Waco and Ruby Ridge, asserting that it's going on everyday.
    Most law enforcement divisions I've seen in action do everything they can to talk the whackjobs down from the ledge before anything approaching violence ensues.
    As for foreign policy, that's far above the pale of police: Excrement like 9-11 doesn't happen without some key factors being involved:
    1-Leverage. The murdering Islamic fanatics realized we were living off them thoughtlessly with vast reserves of our own oil we were too lazy and greedy to make avail of ourselves, and therefore would not respond to the situation like it deserved.
    2-Retaliation. We manipulated and strong-armed the UN to reestablish an "Israel" and populate it with those that were about as legitimately semitic as the Apaches...This will never be forgiven by a lot that know about as much about mercy as deep sea creatures know of starlight. All our Papist imperialism could be overlooked, but a forced, ongoing incursion and occupation will not be. Don't look for it.
    3-Willful ignorance. There is no way an operation like the "attack on America" goes down without - to put it mildly - almost everyone looking the other way, and quite probably inside help. That Mexican migrant issue Fred touched on? Multiply it by 2.
    Local law enforcement is geared toward keeping the peace. International politics OTOH seems more and more aimed at uniting the old-money filthy-rich of the earth under the pavilion of government and leaving plebes like you and me out in the weather.


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