Too many people try to dehumanise police, here are the men taken from mums, wives and children
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"He was reaching for his licence, but he had a pistol-wallet.." Lavish Reynolds moments after a policeman may have saved his own life.

UPDATE - Thanks to many readers for the tip - here is some footage of a pistol wallet.

This is the video posted live to Facebook by Lavish Reynolds in the moments after her boyfriend was shot by police.

"He was reaching for his licence, but he had a pistol-wallet because he was licensed to carry" she says.

 

Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who seemed shaken by the video showing the man, Philando Castile, as he died, pointed to the role of race. “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white?” he asked. “I don’t think it would have.”

Obama certainly believes race was the reason. The White House published this 16 minute long 'Statement from the President" which Obama made time to deliver from Europe.  While he spoke a black man shot 12 police and killed 5 of them.  Dead.   They're dead because their killer apparently believed the same things Obama speaks about. Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 3.42.05 pm

what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

So even as officials continue to look into this week's tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That's how we'll keep our communities safe. And that's how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.

In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling -- feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings.

While Obama was pointing to "the racial disparities, the lack of trust towards police, the underlying fissures that "lead to these incidents'  and the anger, frustration and grief that so many Americans are feeling - adding that "Michelle and I share those feelings'" over shootings that were distinguished by the fact they were videoed, rather than any confirmation police targetted blacks for death - a black gunman used the same things Obama spoke of to justify killing white police.

Obama might even believe that his words could only inspire peaceful protests and vigils.  But he'd be pretty bloody naive if he does.

I know what it's like to be a copper in the urban equivalent of a jungle where the rule of the jungle applies.

I have never spoken publicly about the day I nearly killed a man.   And no one knows what went on in my mind at the time except me.  So I'm stuffed if I know how Obama knows what led to that motor car stop and the death of a man with a pistol wallet.

Google maps says it takes 10 minutes to drive the 4.4 kilometres from Collingwood Town Hall to the Northcote railway station.   That’s probably right if you want to arrive relaxed after a nice safe drive in morning traffic.

It’s much quicker with blue lights and a siren, even in a 1980s police divisional van.   Flat chat up the wrong side of Hoddle Street between sets of lights, we probably shaved a couple of minutes off the journey but we were anything but relaxed and comfortable at our destination.

In 1986 I started work at the Collingwood Police Station, one of Victoria’s busiest. It was a target rich environment for constables who wanted promotion.  A stint at Collingwood delivered a solid track record of arrests and prosecutions to show the selection board for detective training.

Collingwood was policed by a “Section” of 4 to 6 constables and a sergeant on every shift, 24 hours a day.  Two on the divvy van, a sergeant and one in the Collingwood 250 car and a Watch House Keeper looking after the cells.  

“Anyone got paperwork?”, was a dreaded question from the boss at the shift’s start.  We all wanted to be on the road catching crooks, not chained to a desk.

After a week or so at Collingwood I asked about a fit looking young copper, about my age, who worked permanently inside the station as a crime collator. “How come old-mate (I won’t use his name, or the offender’s name) never goes out on the road?” I asked my partner.

“Mate he’s a bit f*cked in the head over ‘The Fat Chap””.  TFC was a notorious burglar who was wanted for a series of brazen daylight break-ins.

The young copper was on the divvy van one morning when a shift worker phoned 000 to report a burglary in progress.  That's a high priority call which police refer to as  "offenders on premises" or offenders-on.  The Collingwood van raced to the scene and that young policeman ended up chasing TFC down a back alley and over a fence. As the copper came over the fence, TFC was waiting on the other side and he was much, much bigger than the policeman.  

In the tussle, TFC wrenched our mate’s revolver from his holster and brought it up to the policeman’s head.   The only reason that policeman survived was because he had been trained to handle that exact situation at the Academy.  As TFC pulled the trigger drawing back the hammer and pin, the young copper jammed the webbing between his thumb and forefinger into the gap.  The hammer came forward and the firing pin lodged in his hand and not in the percussion cap of the .38 hollow point half-jacked round that would have killed him.

TFC escaped arrest that day, but he was the most wanted offender for the police at Collingwood during my time.  He’d been quiet for weeks when I arrived but the experienced coppers expected he’d return to his old habits in his old inner-city stamping ground.

The day I nearly shot a copper started like most days at work at Collingwood. 


“VKC this is Collingwood 306, we’re two up in a marked divisional van until 1400, two jobs carried over from the night shift and clear of the station, Code One, over”.  

“Roger that Collingwood 306”

About 4 hours later the D24 operator said, “VKC to Collingwood 306, I’ve just had the next district operator ask for a unit to cover an offenders-on with multiple 000 callers in Northcote, could I get you to slip over to Channel XX and start heading up Northcote way, over”.

That's how I ended up with the Melways street directory in my lap while my female partner fought the Ford divvy van’s steering and suspension racing up Hoddle Street to deal with God only knew who or what at the job.

As we got more details from the police radio we both said it sounds like TFC. As we got closer I relayed our concerns to the D24 operator and asked for backup - we were told there was none available.

Every police unit in that area heard our conversations, including one bloke, one-up in a crime squad car who for reasons known only to himself went to the address but did not advise D24 or us that he was there.

When we arrived my partner went to the front of the house while I went down a side passage to the rear.  I had never seen TFC but that morning I saw a big bloke in jeans and  a sloppy joe with his back to me, standing at the smashed glass back door of the house we’d been called to.

I yelled “Police don’t move” while my hand went to the only weapon I had, my revolver. The big bloke casually turned around to face me and I saw he had a revolver too, in his hand, coming around in my direction fast.  He saw the danger and froze, smiled and said, “Don’t panic mate, I’m in the job, I’m goin’ for me Freddy (police ID) now”  and he produced his badge from a back pocket.

There are police processes for that sort of situation and he didn't follow them.

It was over in seconds and neither of us made a big deal out of it, but I could so easily have killed that man.   And it wouldn’t have been because he was a copper, because he was black, because of where he was born, or fissures or racial disparity or because I was a white supremacist or thrill-killer.

It would have been because I was tense and frightened and when I said don’t move, he moved.   And he had a gun.

And I wanted to go home alive.

 

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