Let’s say your wife, mother, sister, aunt, or… is using a public restroom located at the back of a local grocery store. As she comes out, a woman attacks her. The attacker tries to steal a ring off her finger. The attacker also tries to take the woman’s purse containing the $500 she’d just withdrawn from a cash machine.
Your wife or… defends herself and escapes to the front of the store. The employees will help her, right? Telling them a woman had just attacked her, she asked employees if she could use the phone to call the police. An employee tells her to use her own phone if she wants to call the cops. The victim then asks to speak with the manager. The manager comes and tells her to “take it outside.” Your wife or… attempts to call 911, and when she asks the manager for the store’s address, he won’t give it to her.
How would you feel? Probably a lot like this woman’s husband. He related this story to KVI Radio host John Carlson. The crime occurred at an unnamed, big-chain grocery store in Federal Way, WA. He continued…
When the police eventually arrive, the woman points to the suspect. The woman is still in the store’s parking lot. The police tell the victim they know the suspect very well. Apparently, she’s a “homeless” person who frequents the area and a chronic criminal. After they arrest the suspect, the victim asks the cops what they will charge her with. The officers tell her misdemeanor assault.
The victim reminds the officers that when the woman physically attacked her, she tried to take a $10,000 ring off her finger and tried to steal her purse with $500 in it. In cop-talk, that’s an attempted robbery—a serious, violent felony. The officers told her the prosecutor’s office could increase the charges (in that county, the prosecutor is more likely to decrease than increase charges against a “homeless” suspect).
There are so many cultural, social, and legal dynamics at work here: Where do I begin?
Foremost is the damage non-enforcement of law is doing to society. This also includes the decline of the rule of law and equal justice happening in too many places in America today.
Most people will become upset at how a criminal could accost this apparently law-abiding woman in such a public setting, how she could be mistreated by the employees, and be re-victimized by the criminal justice system by undercharging the suspect. And they should.
But we should also look at the situation with a broader perspective, not as an excuse for anyone’s actions (or inactions) but to determine how this lack of law enforcement is affecting our culture.
The store employees: Like the cops, the store employees and manager were probably familiar with the suspect. Now, this is speculation, but it’s educated, having responded to too many of these incidents.
From the employee’s perspective, they probably have a vagrant-involved disturbance inside or outside the store at least once a day. Store employees may no longer be able to discern an innocent victim from a chronic street criminal. I hate to use a cliché, but they may begin to operate under a new normal. Or, they simply believe interfering (rendering assistance) is no longer worth it, and they put on the proverbial blinders.
In the past, the employee may have mistaken a suspect for a “victim.” When they intervene, the supposed victim turns around and becomes a “witness” against the employee in his “assault” on the “suspect.” You see, the original “victim” and “suspect” have made up and are friends again. Convoluted? Maybe. But as I always say, ask any cop. Happens all the time.
The police officers: This is likely not the first time this week cops have responded to a disturbance at this store (maybe the same officers). The officers told the victim the woman was quite familiar to them. It’s likely they’ve arrested her before—for the same or similar offense.
Because the woman is a vagrant, the prosecutor’s office probably will not charge her with more than a misdemeanor anyway. So, the cops may adapt and request charges that conform to the prosecutor’s politics.
Given the same circumstances, I would have charged attempted “strong-arm” (no weapon) robbery and would have arrested her for the felony. I did this many times while on the job. I preferred to risk the prosecutor decreasing the charge than hope he’d increase it.
I’m not disparaging the officers. I don’t know the actual facts they had on scene. I also know that coppin’ has deteriorated even in the relatively short time I’ve been off the streets. It’s a nightmare for cops in liberal jurisdictions, trying to navigate the political social justice maze of nonsense.
The suspect: It’s obvious from the fact the suspect was still on store property when the officers arrived, she does not fear law enforcement. Apparently, she also has no fear of repercussions from the criminal justice system. Arrest and short jail stints are likely a part of her lifestyle. A trip to the poky gets her a bologna sandwich and a bed for the night. But it’s unlikely she’ll make use of the jailer’s hospitality. A misdemeanor, it’ll be the revolving door for her.
The victim: This employee and law enforcement response has damaged, if not severed, the victim’s trust in her community and in the criminal justice system. If a good person can’t feel safe popping out to the local grocery store, any sense of trust in society’s legal apparatus will disappear. Without vigorous law enforcement and zealous prosecution (and rehabilitation during and after incarceration), a leftist political system will render the social contract null and void.
The public: Everyone who hears about this incident will suffer a decrease of trust in the community, law enforcement, the prosecutor, and the courts. When people cannot expect the criminal justice system will uphold the rule of law and equal justice, it will taint, if not obliterate, their trust. That is happening all over America. Just look at the recent water-dousing disrespect (and assault) of several NYPD officers in Brooklyn and Harlem.
Decent law-abiding people operate on the assumption that, on an unconscious or even reflexive level, other law-abiding people and the cops will come to their aid should a suspect victimize them—especially in public.
Regrettably, today, justice is not guaranteed. The leftist-spawned disrespect for America’s laws and its legal system is becoming systemic and a sign of a sick society. And with the left’s open disregard for laws they don’t like and their contempt for law enforcement officers, true justice in America in some places is becoming an unexpected rarity.