For sake of simplicity let's just call it evil. As I write this Joran Van der Sloot is in jail and according to the AP (Associated Press) has confessed to Peruvian officials about the killing of a young woman in that country. Joran you might remember is the prime suspect in the disappearance of 18 year old American Natalee Holloway who was on vacation in Aruba in 2005. Natalee's body has never been recovered. Hopefully Juran will admit to killing Natalee and tell authorities where he disposed of her body. It might help bring some closure to the Holloway family (my bet is not, the loss of your child under such circumstances I would imagine is a wound that could never heal).
It seems like evil abounds. In my area confessed cop killer Ashford Thompson was just found guilty on all counts of killing Twinsburg Police Officer Josh Miktarian. With death penalty specs included (which is what Thompson was seeking to avoid) a jury found Thompson guilty of the murder. Justice served? Hardly, a fine man, husband, father, son and police officer was killed along a stretch of highway in 2008 and no court on this Earth can render proper justice.
So to what do we attribute the acts of van der Sloot and Thompson? A spoiled rich kid constantly bailed out by his father (a former judge) or an armed man with anger management issues? These two miscreants had more and were raised under better conditions than the childhood victims of abuse that despite crappy environments and daily beatings don't grow up to kill. What then?
Old Thoughts on Evil
I prefer to call it evil. I mean, regardless of your religious leanings, the written word expressed in the Bible makes pretty clear that evil exists. It doesn't excuse evil actions it just puts a name on what the acts of men like Thompson do. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably evil.
The understanding that evil and evil people exists means that you are good and engaged in good acts. That's right; if you operate as a police officer an enforcer of the law and in the service of your community - you're good. I mean white hat, John Wayne as United States Marshall Rooster Cogburn in True Grit - good; knights of the roundtable, samurai, paladins and noble warriors throughout the ages... good. Good battles evil and good people battle evil ones. It's been that way a long time since, well... biblical days.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. - Attributed to Edmund Burke
But to point out the obvious calling evil acts... evil does nothing to reduce or stop the threat of violence against you or help you stop evil actions. Good intentions, quite simply, don't mean squat on the mean streets.
Since you cannot act with the same rage, uncontrolled violence and... evil that these hyper-violent offenders do, how can you battle them? Be good at violence yourself; controlled violence but never-the-less skilled in applying legal/lawful violence. Hey, Buffy the Vampire Slayer® didn't take on creatures of the night without skills and she’s a freakin’ fictional character. Real knights of old or old West lawman were of no use if they couldn't fight. Armed and outfitted but with no skill and no fighting spirit to use those arms and equipment is like a Hollywood building façade: looks good from the outside but with no depth or reality. Dressing up as a law enforcer but without the capacity to be effective is like an actor dressed as a soldier there's the appearance of the potential for violence but no actual ability to deliver.
Like so much in LE today, agencies don't want (to paraphrase Churchill) rough men ready in the night to visit violence on those that would do us harm. Some agencies don't want aggressive cops (heck they screen out aggression in candidates), they write 22 page policies on use of force that only seek to restrict and micromanage force applications. Some administrators second guess, assume something went wrong and then circle the wagons when a good cop uses his firearm and stops an evildoer from killing. Other agencies approach the training of their own cops as a mandated nuisance instead of the means by which their officers, who they are responsible for, will use to stop violent criminal actions against themselves or the public they serve. Chief, exactly how much would it cost to bury one of your officers or incarcerate a cop killer for life?
And you, what of your preparations for the battle? There's evil out there and evil people you may encounter. What have you done to prepare? Thrown a punch in training lately? Practiced your baton swing or pistol presentation from the holster outside of official in-service training lately? I will tell you that you will do on the street: as you have trained to do - period. The rule is then to train like your life depends on it... because it does.
I don't give a rat's derriere what motivates men like Thompson and Van der Sloot; that's for some shrink to guess. It's enough for me that we caught and prosecuted and will hopefully one day execute them for their actions. I can be relatively sure that while awaiting the short walk to the death chamber that they will not kill again (corrections officers watch your butts). I can't do anything about the evil in men's hearts or their capacity to commit evil acts. I can only remember to keep my white hat looking sharp as well as my skills and capacity to use violence to stop and control them. Yeah, I'll call it evil and train to defeat it.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, comfort me.
Because Praise be to the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. Psalm 144
This column is dedicated to Officer Joshua Miktarian, Badge #45 of the Twinsburg Police Department his family, friends and fellow Officers and all our fallen Brothers and Sisters before and since.