“This is what I call a Target-Rich Environment” - Viper, in the movie Top Gun
If you are a resident, and probably even a visitor, to Fort Smith, you are now part of this “Target-Rich” environment.
Back in 1875 there was a Judge Parker, known as the “Hanging Judge”, who arrived in Fort Smith. His answer to almost every crime was to hang the accused. Today it would seem that we have a police force in Fort Smith that is carrying on this tradition. Instead of having a trial and using a rope, they are using vigilante justice and guns.
On December 12, 2006, a lady named Olivia Stewart, on her way to deliver a meal to an ill friend, was killed by a stray bullet fired by Fort Smith Police Officer Jeff Carter. It seems he was in a gun fight with one “Ricky Simpson” who was using a shotgun. A SHOT GUN… great weapon if you are within about 50 yards of your target. So it would seem that it would not have been real hard for Officer Carter to stay down and call for back up. But no, not Officer Carter. He started “slinging lead” and Ms. Stewart died. I have been a shooter all of my life. No matter if I am hunting or target shooting I ALWAYS know what is behind my target. This cop must not have ever learned this lesson. He shot and killed this poor woman. And of course, he was not held responsible for his actions!
On November 11, 2009, a cop, a Brandon Davis, entered the home of a distraught man, Eric Wayne Berry, and shot him dead. This cop seems to have violated every policy and procedure on how to deal with barricaded people in the Fort Smith Police Department’s manual (posted on their web site by the way). However, he did get some swell video on his “Killer Cam” that he and the boys can watch over beer and pizza on Saturday night.
Now on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009, an Officer Calhoun shot and killed a really dangerous man who was brandishing a BB gun. A Mr. Justin Morehead, who was wearing a short sleeved shirt, standing by an empty bus in the middle of the street, was shot dead. We will never know what demons Mr. Morehead was fighting. No one tried to help him. This would seem to have been a perfect case once again for negotiation or maybe a bean bag shot or pepper spray or even a Taser. After all, this cop got close enough to ‘wrestle away’ one gun. But no, we don’t seem to do that in Fort Smith. In Fort Smith we seem to dispense justice through the barrel of a gun. I sure hope Calhoun had the “Killer Cam” on so he can compare his video with Davis’s.
It is amazing how this police department brags about their new “State of the Art” Killer Cams (which have been around for at least 10 years, by the way) but they do not seem to have any non-lethal means of subduing anyone. No tear gas, no bean bags, no Tasers and obviously no training. No, not for this police department. They don’t need no stinkin’ “non-lethal” tools. These guys have Hot Lead and are not afraid to use it.
In the case of Olivia Stewart, a call for back up, containment, clearing the area and possibly tear gas, could have allowed Ms. Stewart to live.
In Eric Berry’s case, by following Fort Smith Police Department Policy and Procedures, Brandon Davis would NOT have entered Mr. Berry’s home. He would have called for a more experienced, mature officer and either talked Mr. Berry out, contacted a relative or co-worker to talk him out or used tear gas to encourage him to leave. But no, KILLING him, it would seem, made better movie footage as Officer Davis was wearing his spanking new “Killer Cam” that he was dying to try out. No, it was Eric Berry who died, while Officer Davis tried it out, wasn’t it?
It is interesting to note that on December 6, 2009, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man actually fired shots at his girlfriend. Police arrived. Thankfully, a Brandon Davis clone was not amongst them. They may have had a copy of the Fort Smith Police Department Policies and Procedures because they did everything in those procedures that Brandon Davis did NOT do. They secured the area, surrounded the house and negotiated with Darnell Edmondson, who came out with his hands up and was arrested, not shot, by Tulsa Police. Mr. Edmondson will now get an opportunity to have a judge and jury determine his guilt and/or punishment. Eric Berry had a one-man judge, jury and executioner. Which police department would you rather face if you are in trouble?
People of Fort Smith, you had better get to work replacing these people! You need a new mayor, a new chief of police and several new police officers, it would seem, if you want to protect your family in this town. The tactics these officers are using should have gone away with Judge Parker. In today’s world, with modern equipment and a training program geared to save people and not kill them, you seldom do have to actually kill anyone.
It seems that we give more protection to battlefield combatants in Iraq than we do to citizens in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Right now we have three Navy Seals on trial for just slapping a terrorist. We can’t even get these cops in front of a judge for killing citizens of the U.S.! Looks to me like you are safer being in Iraq as a terrorist fighting our soldiers than living in Fort Smith just trying to make it through the day. It seems you have cops looking for targets, and Fort Smith would seem to be a Target-Rich Environment for the members of this police department.