I'm writing this at night, thinking back a couple nights to the homeowners of Watertown. And I'm bothered by what the civilians had to endure. Certainly the police did amazingly well when they ultimately apprehended the suspect, to almost everyone's relief and surprise.
But I would hope the police learn from this tragic episode and revise methods when the next one happens. Because the next time is not a matter of "if" now, it's a matter of "when" unfortunately, and "where." And I see a lot the police did that was very wrong. No one's talking about it, but it's keeping me up at night.
The techniques the police used to catch the suspect could have been better organized. The police could have used thermal imaging first and they could have checked the obvious places to find the suspect before conducting invasive house to house searches. I'm only seeing reports of the infra-red in certain news outlets, but pictures show it was definitely used for verification after the location of the suspect was found on the ground.
So why wasn't thermal imaging used near the beginning before any houses were entered? Before mothers had to let the police into the nurseries at three in the morning, and before mothers and fathers had to open their doors to have four guns aimed at them?
That policy of home invasions by the police absolutely frightens and angers me. And not only me. I read a commenter ask why the people of Watertown hadn't revolted against the police. This show of force certainly wasn't any way to win the fuzzy hearts and minds of the electorate.
There was the failure of the police in not using the infra-red at the beginning of the raids, and it bothers me. Then there were threats of firearms on innocent civilians by the police in the place, their homes, where they feel most safe. And those inspections would naturally be especially disturbing to civilians in the small hours of the morning. Sure the police are saying they had to do it then. And luckily, the police were smart enough not to follow an earlier idea to question the 50,000 people every year who have bought that brand of pressure cookers going back for many years.Maybe having everyone on high alert was the only way to find the suspect. But I'm not so certain.
And the cost is tremendously high. I think a new feeling of anger towards the police and the government is being born in people who hadn't felt that way in the past. Civilians know that having a pistol in their home wouldn't have protected them from home invasions or threats from a lone suspect in public places. So did the police really need to make such an aggressive show of force before they exhausted every other angle? And why did it take them until the early hours of the dark night? Much about the Watertown incident disturbs my sense of peace and equilibrium.
The police had photos of the suspects, and that turned out to be an advantage in the search, along with the discovery of the pressure cooker with nails. The photos must have built plausibility and trust in the minds of civilians, even if they weren't ultimately that useful in the actual endgame shoot-out, where the homeowner with the boat didn't even see the face of the suspect.
And the police should be encouraging the general use of cameras because that's what helped so much to identify the suspects. The confusion over the identity of the suspects immediately evaporated, at least for me, knowing it wouldn't take long to find them, and it was only a matter of time. One wonders with the hysteria, whether the discussion of immigration will lead to a backlash against certain foreign countries after this incident, and it wouldn't be surprising to find the will of the American people being whipped up in a way that is inimical to immigration.
And if civilians realize cameras are for their benefit and there isn't really any downside, they might be helpful and use them. But these protective measures have had a way of turning against civilians in the past in unforeseen and unpredictable ways. They've curtailed freedoms we used to have, to carry small beauty implements on aircraft, for example. People tend to lose their perspective when they're angered at the abuse of their vulnerability, and invaded where they believed themselves safe. If women have to worry that men will use the cameras against them to have them followed, for example, then civilians won't be as eager to help the police force find terrorists. The benefit has to outweigh the cost. And the good has to be shown in an extraordinarily powerful piece of persuasion or else it won't prevail.
The police system already has made us take off our shoes and metallics at the airports. What will be asked of us next? It's becoming ever more hazardous to venture out of the house because of the massive police presence. Police will pounce on us in Princeton, New Jersey, for being two minutes past the expired sign on a parking meter or for going ten miles an hour over a 25 mph. limit on the school run. Street cameras in New Jersey have charged the equivalent of more than twice the average family's weekly grocery bill for crossing a white line momentarily at a red light. And to see the police going door to door on television into Watertown nurseries absolutely strikes heart into homeowners. Perhaps it was worth it if it made the homeowner with the boat check on it, and be a little suspicious.
But repeated, these small infringements on liberty lead to great anger among innocent civilians and build up general sentiments of resentment. Over time civilians will be more sensitive and whipped up by unexpected police intrusions when it happens again. May God help America.