A Matter of Policy, A Matter of Semantics

At one time I had a job in law enforcement. This is both an advantage and a dis-.

The advantage is that I can more easily tell whatís going on when it comes to police investigations. The disadvantage is that I have trouble communicating this to people who havenít had similar experience.

Steven den Beste has a post where he discusses a recent nail bomb that went off in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne, Germany. 22 people were injured, and as of yet thereís no report of any fatalities. The police have stated that thereís no evidence that there is a terrorist connection.

This pretty much set Steven off. His position seems to be (and Iím sure heíll correct me if Iím wrong on this) that it pretty much had to be the work of terrorists. In the post script below his main entry he takes the European governments and people to task for not recognizing the threat.

Now I donít want to be too hard on Steven. I pretty much feel the same way about the prevailing attitude in Europe: that the world-spanning Islamic terrorist organizations will pass them by and avoid attacking them if they keep their heads down and complain about how the Israelis treat the Palestinians. I agree completely that the Euros are making a mistake.

Otherwise Steven is way off base on this one.

Letís set aside the fact that Europe in general and Germany specifically has been struggling with a resurgence of racism, so the bomb could very well be a home-grown racist act. Letís ignore the fact that Turkish immigrants have been the source of a great deal of tension in German society over the past few decades, which lends weight to the racist act theory. Letís also put the fact that Turkish organized crime (along with organized crime from other countries) have been using Germany as a base for illegal activity, so the bomb could have been an act of gang warfare.

Instead letís keep the fact that the guy Steven quoted is a member of the police firmly in mind.

Thereís two reasons why this is significant. First off, the police are subject to pressure from the popular press and the public. When the public hears the word ďterroristĒ they immediately think of the sort of global terrorist network mentioned at the beginning of this post. If it turns out that this is not the case, even if the true actors are caught quickly and efficiently, then the public would be screaming about how the police are incompetents for getting it wrong. The careers of a good many public servants have gone down the tubes for less.

The second reason is that the police are supposed to avoid a rush to judgement.

In any criminal case the evidence must be viewed with as much detachment and intellectual clarity as possible. This is essential. The evidence will lead to the guilty, and any cop who decides whoís the perp and then checks the evidence shouldnít have been a cop in the first place.

Does this mean that a terrorist cell isnít behind the nail bomb? Not at all. Itís just that when a policeman says ďThereís no evidence ofÖ.Ē heís not trying to cover anything up. Heís just being a good cop. Itís wrong and completely unfair to automatically assume that thereís some sort of political motivation behind it.

And if it turns out that it was an act of terrorism, and they find out who did it, that’s an example of good police work as well.

2 thoughts on “A Matter of Policy, A Matter of Semantics”

  1. Good post Jim. I like the way you think. I also suspect you were a damn good cop. I have three in the family; one, an aunt, is a homicide detective. She tells stories that make your skin crawl. The things she has seen.

    I also agree about the tendency, which we all share as human beings, to rush to judgement. I’m not saying for a minute we shouldn’t apply common sense. After all, if it walks like a duck and quacks like duck…

    However, it seems they’ve applied the duck test and this one isn’t quacking. We should all have the temerity to look at the truth, whether it’s what we want to see or not. That’s easier said than done.

  2. Using this reasoning, there is no evidence that it linked to anything at all yet. I agree, the police should just shut up or state the truth. The statement “We are investigating, that’s all we know” is much better than “We are investigating, we don’t know if it’s terrorists”.
    There is a difference.

    I’m also getting tired of the “public pressured me into making a mistake” excuse coming from professionals.

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