The Local Police are Not the Military ...
Get it Right

Sent in by Ed Brannum
Republic of Texas

Lubbock's Lesson

By Jeff Elkins


It's become a commonplace event - a domestic dispute turns ugly and the police are called. Matters escalate and a desperate, armed man barricades himself in his home. The patrol officers back off and establish a perimeter, waiting for the specialists, the men in the black ninja suits.


That was the scene in Lubbock, Texas on a sweltering July morning. Richard Robinson, an unemployed mechanic, had been out of work since the state had taken his car and body shop through an act of eminent domain, paying him a year's salary, $45,000. Robinson and his wife Laura had argued the previous day about his unemployment and the police were called. The patrol officers resolved that dispute with no charges being filed, but the emotions still simmered below the surface. They argued loudly yet again the following day, and the police returned. Robinson refused to leave his house and speak with the patrol officers.


Robinson did not respond to negotiators' attempts at contact until 12:30 p.m. When he was contacted, Robinson was "distressed and emotionally volatile," according to police spokesman Bill Morgan. Robinson's moods were described as "agitated and almost manic at times."


After several hours of "negotiations," the SWAT team initiated a "break and rake" maneuver in which windows are knocked out and curtains are cleared away. However, as team members broke the first window at 3:18 p.m., the disturbed individual the boys in black were attempting to "rescue" opened fire. "He (Robinson) fired through the walls and the windows from the shadows of the house," Morgan said. "As soon as he cut loose, an officer went down with a head wound."


Lubbock police Sgt. Kevin Cox died from that gunshot wound to the head soon after arriving at Lubbock's University Medical Center, Morgan said. Undercover Officer Jonny Hutson suffered a superficial head wound after he was "ticked by a bullet passing through his hat," Morgan added.


Robinson's weapons were at least semi-automatic and possibly fully automatic, Morgan said. An astonishing 369 rounds were fired during the pitched battle, that Robinson initiated with a 20 or 30 round burst of gunfire.


About an hour after the gunfire had ended, Richard Robinson, crawled wounded from his house to the porch after the SWAT team fired tear gas into the home. Robinson, who suffered a gunshot wound to his left side during an intense exchange of gunfire, was charged with capital murder. Bond was set at $1 million.


A commonplace story in today's armed America, right? Perhaps more than we know. Actually, the story is riddled with lies and distortions, from start to finish. Richard Robinson was unarmed and never fired a single shot. Miraculously, he survived an attempted assassination by a police murder squad in which through ineptitude, they killed one of their own and wounded another. Charges against Robinson have been dropped and the Lubbock police department is in disarray, with Police Chief Ken Walker suspended. Charges of an attempted cover up swirl through the community, and a copy of Walker's 2000 job review cited "Aggressiveness of the SWAT team" as an area of concern.


Perhaps Lubbock can learn a lesson from this debacle. First and foremost, why in the world does a small Texas community require its own army? The Lubbock SWAT team responded in full battle gear, armed with fully automatic weapons, armored personnel carriers, flammable CS gas - the entire panoply of tools for the modern infantryman.


In a perfect example of the militiarization of Mayberry, Lubbock's police have been converted from protectors of the peace to a veritable standing army. Instead of guarding their flock from the wolves, the common constables are now warriors for the state, ready to murder those they swore to protect.


A wise step for Lubbock City Manager Bob Cass would be the immediate suspension of SWAT operations, in their entirety, in addition to the suspension of Police Chief Ken Walker. Let Lubbock take the lead and get rid of the fully automatic weapons, armored personnel carriers and flammable CS gas. If the citizens of Lubbock are wrongfully denied fully automatic weaponry, the local police should be denied it as well.


In a free republic any insurrection requiring massive military firepower should be the business of the Governor of Texas and properly regulated citizen militia, not ill-trained and aggressive local police. Certainly not in response to a domestic dispute.


Let Lubbock mandate that all police officers wear either proper uniforms or normal plainclothes, depending on their duties. No more black uniforms and masks, no more ninja outfits. Let the citizens of Lubbock see who they've hired to "Protect and Serve", rather than be confronted with frightening and un-American thugs who instead have a mission to "Punish and Suppress."


If the city fathers of Lubbock show some wisdom, they can turn this horrible incident around and perhaps even start a national trend. Unfortunately, if past actions are indicative of the future, a useless commission will issue a useless report, the inept police chief will be replaced with someone just as inept and things will go on as before until the next killing.

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