Wednesday, September 24, 2008

by the people, for the people

I am disturbed that so many assume we are cop haters because we want to question what happened. Ben Franklin helped create our police and firefighter force. He set it up so we could pay public servants with our tax dollars. Previous to that the citizens of a town took turns on their watches. I am grateful I don’t have to take my turn on night watch for the town. It is important to be grateful that these men and women do this for us and it equally as important to remember that they work for us. We are citizens of a country that we have to be active in or tyranny takes over. We are a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

I think it needs to be said that as far as we understand Brian started this. What he did is not recommended. I don't recommend shooting garbage cans and I don't recommend holding a gun to yourself. As much as we love him, we know if he had not started this, this would not have happened. He made the first poor choice. The police are responsible for responding to people’s poor choices in the most peaceful manner they can and sometimes the outcome is not good. What we are suggesting is that it looks as if the police responded poorly and if this turns out to be the case, whatever caused this poor response needs to change so this never happens to anyone again.

“SOLDIERS AND POLICE are supposed to be different. Soldiers are aimed at enemies from outside the country. They are trained to kill those enemies, and their supporters. Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force. “ I found this quote online by Glenn Harlan Reynolds. I don’t know who he is or what his views are but I liked this quote.

In this tragic situation and in any situation it is important to question whether proper force was used or not. From our perspective it looked like Excessive Force.

Our stance is that from our perspective excessive force was used. Our view is from the street, as witnesses and friends. We don’t have the same information or perspective the police have but that is part of what makes our views valuable. It is our duty as citizens to question our government. It is not only our right but our duty. This is not just about this one particular case although it hits really close to home. It is our responsibility to ask questions and to do something about it if necessary when those questions are answered. We need to listen to other views and to adjust ours when appropriate. It is not ok to just sit back and criticize. If we want our world to change we need to be a participant in solving these problems.

Let's look at this situation . . .

Let’s look at this situation. Obviously there are more relevant facts to be released before these questions can be fully answered by anyone. And we can be sure that when all of the facts come out we may need to change the questions we are asking but we should be thinking about these questions and when they are answered we should take action if necessary.

1. Was excessive force used?

2. Is it possible to create a peaceful resolution using war tactics?
Were the non-lethal methods used humane? Torture doesn't kill you, at least for awhile. What is the expected outcome when you harass, tease and torture an already distraught man?

3. Who is it acceptable to wage war on? A suicidal man? A criminal? Someone with allegations against them? Someone with hostages?

4. Is the training our officers receive appropriate? Do they get frustrated if they have a lot of training and don’t get to use it in the field?

5. What if the officers had just waited him out? I am not talking about just not shooting him, I am talking about from early in the morning. What if they had not tear gassed, pepper balled, flash grenaded, tazered him and just waited. Eventually he would have had to eat, drink or sleep. He wasn't going anywhere - at least he couldn't drive anywhere, he was blocked in.

6. Was the protocol followed in this situation? Is the protocol appropriate? If it is not how do we go about getting that changed?

7. Do the current protocols encourage or discourage situations like this to escalate or come to peaceful resolutions?

8. Do the police departments have proper checks and balances? Do they have the power they need to solve these complicated situations?

9. Can /did someone local remain in charge who understood the situation or is control given away to someone else?

10. When more facts come out will I be willing to change my perspective if necessary?

11. Are forums like this useful? Do they just stir up drama and passions that no one does anything about? What is the best way to create change when we believe it is necessary?

12. Was Brian ordered to be shot? What was his physical body position when he was shot? Where was he shot? Was he saying anything at the time he was shot? Why did they let us believe for 24 hours that he had killed himself, when that must have been clear to the police within 15 minutes?

12. Is it possible to question something without being viewed as a ____hater or a conspiracy theorist?

13. Is the protocol appropriate that did not allow friends or family to speak face to face with Brian? If we wanted to risk our lives, sign waivers and approach him to talk to him, why couldn't we?

14. Did any police ask to talk to Brian ? (I do not think that this is their responsibility, but wondered if any asked and if they did were they allowed?)

15. What do you think other important questions are?

**Be sure to make it clear which questions you are responding to.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Questioning Police Tactics Does Not Equate to Police Hatred

Questioning your government entities is our civic responsibility. We don't hate cops or the government. Our intention isn't to blame the police for this whole situation, that would be absurd. We are simply asking the questions that challenge our police force to be even better. We live in a very peaceful community but there are times when cops respond inappropriately- it is pure simple human nature. In this case, as friends and primary witnesses, we truly believe this incident may have been mishandled. We have chosen to bring attention to this issue in an effort to prevent situations like these from recurring, and to facilitate an intelligent dialogue on how to better handle situations like these. We come from the best intentions and truly love and value the members of our community. Let's work together to inspire change!
-Evan and Cassie

This forum is not about hating cops

This forum is not about hating cops, so don't send me any more email about how I hate cops. From our perspective it looks as if this situation was handled poorly. Brian was close friends with the Farmington Firefighters and Police. They helped him through other tough times. They are grieving too. Some of them have expressed their sadness, frustration and horror over this as well. I am not attacking them. This situation looks as if it was handled poorly and so far it has not been released who was in charge. Looks like a bad call by someone.
I am disturbed by the show of force. It looked excessive. I am disturbed by the Utah Highway Patrol officer to whom we commented, "I bet you get tired of this stuff." He replied, "No I love this stuff." I am disturbed by the Sniper running down the street licking his lips and grinning from ear to ear. I am disturbed by the huge pizza and cookie police party that happened just before it all ended. I am disturbed by the response the Farmington Police officer got when he was called into work early, arrived on the scene and told the UHP officers he was there to relieve them and they could go home . . . and they wouldn't leave. Were they staying for the pizza, the show or the overtime and hazard pay? It is possible it was something else. I am disturbed by 300 police officers to negotiate with one man. What were we negotiating? The police have made it clear that in this "negotiation" Brian had no demands.
Brian was a firefighter and he loved it. He loved the guys he worked with. He was an EMT and he loved saving lives and was an awesome father and member of the community.

If you witnessed this

If you were there and would like to post your story email us at

Were 300 police officers really necessary?

I wish the news had pictures of how many cops were involved. That was the dangerous situation. What did they think would happen when they were shooting him with pepper balls and setting off flash grenades? What were they trying to save him from? Himself? and their solution was to shoot him.

Is death the proper punishment for not getting out of his truck?

I have little kids, sometimes they do bad things and I have to choose how to respond and often punishments are necessary. When I respond to these situations I do my best to not create a power struggle and let my child "save face." I don't call anyone extra over to tease him, I handle it as quietly and calmly as possible. He still gets his consequence but is able to save his dignity. When too many people respond to a situation or too much force is used it escalates the situation and makes the person feel there is no way out.
(Before I post this can I save a few people some dumb comments and point out this is a METAPHOR. Metaphors are comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. The important way I felt these were similar was that things go better when the "authorities" allow someone to save face and that when attacked it is human nature to defend ourselves and resist, not submit.)

Brian Wood was shot

Who do we call when we need to be protected from the police? Our community is sickened by the events that happened in Farmington last night. Brian was a good man having the worst day of his life. Brian was a threat to himself (and a garbage can). When people are suicidal they need love not torture. We watched as the swat team tortured him. They tear gassed him. They threw percussion grenades and shot him with pepper balls and we could hear him screaming. What did they expect him to do? Forced suicide is wrong -UPDATE - turns out he was shot by the police, not himself. He needed support not torture. If a man is on a tall building about to jump and harm himself does it help if the cops throw things at him? Does it help if they tear gas him and throw percussion grenades at him? What about the pepper balls? Those are torture. This looks as if it was so poorly handled. Really, who do we call when we need protection from the police?

Many reports on this have been sensational and full of misinformation. We plan on updating this with more real stories from the people who were there.