Don’t shoot the Sheriff

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2004

Bob Marley’s reggae-style blues produced a hit song in the early 1970’s.

Later recorded by the legendary Eric Clapton, the haunting lyrics of &uot;I Shot the Sheriff&uot; was Marley’s story of how &uot;Sheriff Brown aimed to shoot him down&uot; for planting seeds (I guess the seeds were of the marijuana variety).

So, why am I bringing up an old rock-n-roll, blues song from 30-plus years ago? Well it’s certainly not to promote deadly violence against any member of any branch of law enforcement. I’m not into any of that type of music – aka &uot;gangster rap.&uot; The best thing those so-called &uot;musical artists&uot; can do in my opinion is take the nasty do-rags covering their heads to shove ’em in their mouth. The muffled sound that ensues will most assuredly be better than the violent lyrics they promote.

Rather, this column is a public service announcement to any person that may be leaning towards violent behavior, especially against a member of law enforcement. What follows was given to me by a local lawman, who received it via the worldwide web. Please read on, these words may save your life.

The topic: How to avoid being shot by the police.

&uot;This is not rocket science, although some treat it as such,&uot; said the e-mail author.

The piece goes on to say that several suspects have been injured during shootouts with police officers. Newspapers, quoting community activists, in the areas of those incidents have published editorials saying that due to an increased number of shootings involving police officers that, &uot;local citizens could find themselves dodging bullets for no apparent reason at all.&uot;

Personally, the last time I checked, police don’t fire upon suspects and do not return fire in total disregard for public safety. The key here is for gunplay to never materialize. In order for that to happen, thieves, thugs and other low-life criminal elements need to follow a five-point plan submitted by a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney. His thoughts are as follows:

Rule #1 – Don’t commit violent crimes. It seems elementary, but this rule is lost on many. They do the crime, get shot and then wonder how it could possibly happen. They whine that it’s so unfair. Well, violent crime, like jumping in front of moving cars, is a high-risk occupation. In case you missed it, committing a violent crime makes police officers think you might not be a good person.

Rule #2 – If you ignore Rule #1 and the police confront you, don’t run away from them. It’s hard to believe, but running away makes a policeman think you’re guilty of something. Hiding in bushes or closets makes some cops (mostly older ones) very nervous. They might even foolishly conclude that you’re up to no good.

Rule #3 – If you decide to ignore #1 and #2 and the cops catch you anyway and inform you that you are under arrest, do not make any fast movements with your hands. It may sound silly, but grabbing a shiny beer can, a dark colored wallet or one of those snazzy, realistic looking replica guns may make police officers mistakenly believe that you are about to hurt them.

Rule #4 – If you disregard rules 1-3 and manage to get what looks like a deadly weapon in your hands, don’t point it at the cops. We all know you’re basically a nice person, but that fact may be lost on the officers confronting you. In their paranoia, they may even believe they need to protect themselves.

Rule #5 – Don’t be astonished, after disregarding rules 1-4, if the cops do not turn instantly into your personal confidante. They may be too preoccupied to realize that you’re normally a splendid person and that you’re just having a bad day. They may be too preoccupied to see that when you point a weapon at them in a threatening manner, it’s just your way of crying out for help. We both know that the whole problem can be traced to the fact that your mother didn’t breast feed you, but some police officers are so cynical that they just don’t understand.

So, there you have it. If you really apply yourself and obey even some of these rules, I’ll bet you will avoid the vast majority of police gunfire.

And if you don’t, then a crafty lawyer can make you (if you survive) or your family very rich!