We All Lose in Tragedies Like This

I get concerned when I see some of the strong rhetoric flying from both sides. Why are there two sides? We are all in the same Constitutional Republic known as the United States of America, right? Do we have our choices limited to hating Ryan Frederick or hating Law Enforcement? I hope not!

Having said that, it is my position that Det. Shivers life was ended in part by poor policy, and a lack of guide line review and execution. No matter your work environment or type of employment, if there is a lack of process review and assessment ,or if there is poor instruction/supervision by those with higher pay grades, the rank and file WILL do things that they KNOW they really shouldn’t. Human nature.

Evidence at this point does point to poor, possibly unethical, planning and execution. It does appear that Ryan Frederick was thrust into a terrible situation. Enough was not done to protect the life of Shivers or Frederick. The whole point behind “overwhelming force”, Tactical strategy, and superior training is to be SO effective that it gets the job done while best protecting our law enforcement as well as those that are innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.

As a Libertarian, I have high regard for Public Safety. We Libertarians believe that the function of government is to protect the INDIVIDUAL from “Force” and “Fraud”. Law Enforcement is therefore a crucial tool to execute said purposes. I see no gain by needlessly bashing the police. OUR guys on the street protecting us from crime did not create the laws nor CPD policy. As Doc Tabor mentioned in another post, that responsibility lies further up the line of command.

To Chesapeake officers and interested parties I’d like to say that: just because one is upset with the reckless endangerment of Shivers and Frederick, just because we insist that there were far safer times and means of investigation/warrant execution, we distrust the idea of relying so much on criminal informants, and insist that the line of ethics, law, and safety not be crossed………………….that doesn’t mean that Libertarians or anyone else, can’t also care about our fellow citizens that happen to be employed in Public Safety.

What happened was wrong. The CPD messed up. How dare I say that? Det. Shivers died. That in itself is enough to support my contention. Even if Ryan Frederick was the vile villain that some try to paint him as, this one man should never have been put into the situation where he had to make those choices. Or have been allowed opportunity to do so, for that matter. You can not tell me that protecting SMALL amounts of marijuana/evidence is worth putting an officer/husband/father’s life in jeopardy. Huge marijuana manufacturing evidence could not be flushed as Doc Tabor previously pointed out.

The best we can hope for is that the death of Shivers will serve to protect his fellow officers……and citizens in the future through bringing procedural reform. Otherwise, Det. Shivers died for absolutely nothing!

The CPD, the family of Shivers, Ryan Frederick, and the citizens at large deserve a complete and open investigation. The root cause of this horror must be identified and corrected. Shivers and our Constitutional Republic deserve no less. Yes, there will be associated pain but, to best protect lives and our freedom, it must be done.
Yes, I am outraged. Individual rights were not protected, the CPD administration appears to be inept, Det. Shivers needlessly died, and Ryan Frederick at this point does APPEAR to have thought his life was in peril and had his life ruined by poor execution of a warrant. We ALL lose.

All the name calling achieves nothing but to divide us. United we stand. Divided, it becomes “us vs. them”. When the police see us, or we see the police as the enemy, things have gone horribly wrong. We should all be outraged by that and insist that steps are taken to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again.

My sympathies go out to the Shivers family, the Frederick family, and those of us that thought we were all supposed to be Americans on the same side.

My thanks go out to Police and Fire for saving lives and protecting rights/property every day.

Thanks also to good freedom loving Libertarians like Dr. Don Tabor for taking personal time to keep everyone informed. Sometimes our governments need to be reminded that the public will hold them accountable. Efforts like this serve to help protect our rights and even the lives of officers and fellow citizens alike.

My deepest thanks are reserved for the crafters of the Constitution.


27 Responses to We All Lose in Tragedies Like This

  1. Michael says:

    This post needs to be distributed further than just this blog. It is EXACTLY the point that people need to see.

  2. Zargon says:

    It would be nice to be united, but it’s more important to be moral.

    The responsibility of determining the morality of CPD policy, and even the laws themselves, lies with each and every person that upholds those policies and laws. If my employer instructs me to do something immoral, even if it’s legal, the moral blame would rightly fall both on me and my employer if I went ahead and did it. The police are no different.

    Just following orders never was, and never will be, a valid excuse.

  3. Britt Howard says:

    Zargon, I never meant to suggest that there was an excuse for breaking the law or eluding procedure. I’m not even saying that individuals don’t deserve punishment. Of course, I don’t know enough about the individual perfomances to make any particular call there.

    My point is that structure is in place because some of us humans have many failings. While the boots on the street would not necessarily be without blame, the upper echelons are indeed responsible for policy and discipline. Due to THAT negligence, this was all possible. In the Navy individuals do end up in the brig but, for major cluster f@&Ks, who is ultimately held as responsible? The command is. Rightly so.

    You don’t let the “bad apples” run the asylum. You don’t allow “mob mentality” peer pressure to rot the “good apples”.

    In this case, even if you took out any individuals and left it at that, there would still be a systemic flaw that would contribute to the next horrible incident.

    Lastly, being united is very moral. If we are truly united we will be stopping what happend from repeating itself. You don’t think individual officers in the CPD are not quietly concerned about safety and other potential debacles? Please give the vast majority of Law Enforcement a little credit.

    We can all agree that what happend was horrible. We can all agree there were mistakes and possibly worse involved. We can agree that lives were ruined and this mess needs fixing. In order to fix this as efficiently as possible, we need their support and they need ours to do what has to be done. Blindly attacking either group will only alienate good people and disuade them from making an effort.

  4. price says:

    The article’s point is well taken. The tragic events have taken place and there is plenty of blame to go around. Hind sight is easy.

  5. ktc2 says:

    Did I miss something?

    Has there been any indication on the part of the CDP that they did anything wrong?

    It’s my impression they are trying their hardest to put Mr. Frederick in prison so they don’t have to address the real cause of this tragedy.

  6. Zargon says:

    Exactly. The first and foremost cause for this divide is that law enforcement (police & prosecutors alike) are currently treated as more valuable than the rest of us. The evidence for this can be found almost everywhere, though I suppose I could elaborate if honestly necessary. It shouldn’t be. The blame for this lies with the judges who grant officers sovereign immunity. It lies with politicians that write laws that are flat out immoral to enforce. It lies with police administrators for writing policy that leads to situations like this. It lies with prosecutors who who every dirty trick in the book to maximize conviction rate rather than justice rate. And it lies with individual police officers who uphold those immoral policies and laws, whether they think about it or not.

    This trial is a distraction, a scapegoating. Whether they convict that poor man or not, they’ll act as though the only thing that went wrong in the entire situation is that crazed gunman murdered a heroic cop.

    There are lots of people who go along with that, and seem to believe that’s a perfectly good way to handle this. They’d rather not think about the wrongs committed by the politicians, the higher ups in the PD, the prosecutors, and the officers. Their world is so much simpler to just lay everything at the feet of this guy who had an absolute maximum of 25 seconds to wake up and determine the identity of the multiple home invaders – and guessed wrong.

    Frankly, if the choices are to be united with people like that or be divided, I choose divided every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  7. Britt Howard says:

    KTC, I agree with your point about the CDP not taking public responsibility. Probably on advice from counsel but, also the CYA motivation you speak of has a lot to do with it.

    In the end it won’t matter. Shivers died and possibly an innocent man is having his life ruined. It should be quite obvious that something was done very wrongly. You can’t escape all the common sense arguements as to how Ryan SHOULD have been approached. There was an obvious systemic failure. Too many good people are paying attention. I don’t see this being swept under the rug. There will also be pressure from inside that we won’t see.

    If you were on a CPD forced entry team, would’nt you want changes made? What if you insured the lives of the officers, would you insist on reform measures? Politicians running for office? What about the unions? Yeah, cover your own but, at some point it would be at the expense of the safety of other membership to stay on a false course.

    I don’t expect any true official admissions until all the court dates are over and law suits settled.

    All the same, those responsible should be held so. The good name of true public servants however seems to get muddied at times. Your average officer is not the department nor the special prosecutor. One of their “brothers” died in the line of duty due to negligence upstairs. How loyal do you want to be to a system that endangers you?

    Hey, keep up the noise about this. Let’s just avoid branding an entire department for alleged actions of a few and the negligence of others in areas of responsibility.

  8. Britt Howard says:

    Zargon, I so agree with you but, I still say your lumping in the rest of the officers in general due to that justifiable outrage. I’m preaching general unison not specifically with the prosecutor or those guys playing CoverYourA.

    I think it is important that your average officer does not equate our outrage over this case with our view of Public Safety in general. They need to know that yes Ryan is probably a victim but, so was Shivers and the Shiver family. Everyone was failed. This isn’t about us vs. the police.

    I’m fairly optimistic that Ryan will be vindicated and that the blame for Shivers death will be pointed inward.

  9. Emland says:

    I started following the RF case this week and found this site through Dr. Tabor’s comments on pilotonline. I really appreciate this forum.

    I’m interested in knowing this: Who decided Frederick was so dangerous it warranted a night time commando style raid? Don’t these kind of tactics cost a lot more to the city in terms of manhours and in this case cost more than anyone should ever have to pay? Am I also understanding that this was only a search warrant, not an arrest warrant and his presence wouldn’t even be necessary to serve? Why not do it when he is at work and simply wait to arrest him if anything incriminating is found?

    From the reports I have read thus far this individual held a regular job and had a regular routine. I just don’t get why they felt this man required all the muscle.

  10. Britt, I’m afraid there will be no introspection on the part of the police unless the outrage is expressed. There are plenty of good cops who don’t like the tactics that are used in enforcing drug laws. The problem is, they won’t talk, due to peer pressure.

    My outrage is due to the drug laws themselves, but if even the mildest marijuana decriminalization bill is proposed, who is testifying before the legislature against such a measure? It’s the Chiefs of Police. It’s the police unions. They don’t get to send their representatives to support bad laws, then in turn hide behind the existence of those laws when criticized.

    Worse yet, police and their supporters tell me repeatedly that if I’ve never been a cop, I shouldn’t offer criticism. I’m “arm-chair quarterbacking”. Then, when a former cop- in fact a former narcotics officer, and a highly successful one- like Barry Cooper starts telling the public about the nasty tactics, he’s dismissed as “disgruntled”.

    So if civilians don’t have a moral right to criticize, and former cops don’t get to either, whose credibility are they willing to recognize? Who’s left, besides the other active cops? You think you’ll get candid opinions from them?

    Seems to me, no matter who tries to watch the watchers, their painted as traitors, misfits, and liars. So I’ll sally forth and take the heat for the silent victims.

  11. Bill says:

    Rick, I understand that your questions are mostly rhetorical, but I believe our moral authority to challenge the drug laws and law enforcement conduct in general comes from several places:

    First of all, in this country, the power to govern is supposed to flow from the consent of the governed. So if there is a great divide between the people and the government…then the government is wrong. Period. It seems that we are moving toward a tipping point on the War on Drugs in particular, where the laws will not represent the will of the people–setting aside the obvious Constitutional problems with both these laws and their enforcement.

    Second, to say that I don’t have the right to criticize if I haven’t been in their shoes is fine…as long as I am not subject to their authority, nor am I paying their salaries, or for all the expensive toys they use. If I’m footing the bill, then I absolutely have a right to complain about the quality of service.

    Finally, much of what we are arguing is common sense. The fundamental laws of our country–the Bill of Rights, for example–are not that hard to understand. What is difficult is getting through the layers of interpretation that have been applied in order to allow the government to violate the spirit and the letter of those laws. There is also a lot of mythologizing of police work. I know law enforcement officers and former LE who I respect immensely. But they are NOT “out there every day risking their lives to protect us”. Their work is far less dangerous than many other careers, including fishing and logging, and much of police work does not “protect” me at all–in fact, I would argue that the War on Drugs probably makes us all slightly LESS safe.

  12. Burt B says:

    A rank and file police officer is usually doing what he was ordered to do by a superior who answers up the chain of command to the chief of police. The chief is appointed by and usually answers to the city manager who in turn answers to the city council. And the city council in turn answers to and is elected by who ? Us. So if we have a problem with police tactics we have the ability to insist upon changes either in police regulation or laws of our elected officials. In effect like it or not an officer is basically doing what a majority of citizens have approved of by the election of the above persons.

    This entire SWAT style warrant delivery seems to have grown out of the WACO fiasco years ago. It does not help that they are glorified on TV in shows like COPS etc. There is an entire industry now built around tactical police equipment and training. The problem seems to be when to use it. Now I am not a LEO but it seems to me that it would be prudent to use an overwhelming force of this nature when there is a high risk of injury to the officer and an imminent danger to the public that a subject be apprehended immediately.

    I am sorry but this case simply does not seem to have required this type of entry. The risk of injury to a citizen or police officer in this circumstance is high. But this decision was not made by the officers involved. they were simply doing what was instructed of them. Nothing more, nothing less.

    The problem on the other side is that RF, assuming he truly did not know who was forcing entry on his house, should have identified the target before discharging his weapon. What if this had simply been an intoxicated idiot who thought he was home and kicked in a door panel. Would shooting him to death through the door while he was standing on the porch acceptable? I do not believe so. If someone forces entry into my home and I am clear this is an intruder and I believe I am in imminent danger I would have no issue firing on and if need be killing that individual. But I must be cognizant of the fact that once I pull that trigger I am responsible for where the bullet goes and what or who it hits.

    I do not believe RF to be guilty of capital murder. I do however believe that once he pulled the trigger of that gun and killed someone standing on his porch regardless of the attempted entry into his home that he is response for that death and needs to pay for the decision.

  13. John Sutton says:

    Burt B – EXACTLY!

  14. Jones says:

    Burt-B said it right. When your inside and they’re outside, your not in a position to start using deadly force.

  15. dreamer says:

    Exactly. Incredibly spoken.
    Americans… United we stand, divided we fall.
    Thank you John and Dr. Tabor.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Please continue in the voice of reason and respect that you speak and step with.
    Be blessed.

  16. ktc2 says:

    Uh . . . what if they are partway inside having busted your door and are reaching for the lock to get in. Seems like enough inside to shoot to me.

  17. price says:

    For Burt B: you can’t compare this raid to the WACO, TX raid. Do you home work before you make such a statement. Those WACO people were truly nuts and had enough assault weapons and ammunition to support a small army. There is a good unbiased book about WACO and it really opened my eyes.
    I agree with the your other points, that things could have been done different and RF should be accountable for the bullets he fired.

  18. supercat says:

    The problem on the other side is that RF, assuming he truly did not know who was forcing entry on his house, should have identified the target before discharging his weapon. What if this had simply been an intoxicated idiot who thought he was home and kicked in a door panel.

    Was it reasonable for police to knowingly break into an occupied dwelling–especially one whose occupant has a particularly high fear of being robbed–in the absence of exigent circumstances? If it is unreasonable, given that the Constitution explicitly declares unreasonable searches to be illegitimate, that would suggest the person breaking down the door was a burglar and should rightly have been regarded as such.

    Further, in most cases where a drunk kicks or pounds on a door, the door holds. Here, Mr. Frederick could see that the door was breached quickly–much faster than a drunk would have been able to do.

    Finally, I ask which would be safer: a world in which everyone was told that police officers who act like burglars may be shot, and thus police officers need to avoid acting like burglars, or a world in which crooks with dime store uniforms can break into people’s dwellings and disarm the occupants with impunity? I would suggest that the former would be much safer for everyone.

  19. supercat says:

    prince: I watched the Waco hearings. Despite the efforts of Charles Schumer et al. to derail them, there was a lot of information there for anyone who paid attention. Agents admitted to having shot blindly through walls, and there was no coordination among the entry teams to ensure that they stayed out of each others’ lines of fire. The Davidians may have been wacky, but the BATF agents fired off far more ammunition with far less regard for human life.

    Indeed, given that there is no evidence that the BATF agents even considered any scenario by which the warrant might be served peacefully, nor for that matter even considered any plan to actually present any of the Davidians with a certified copy of the warrant, I see no reason that the BATF agents should have been regarded as anything less than unlawful intruders, burglars, and–given that people died as a result of their burglary–murderers.

  20. Burt B says:


    I wasnt trying to compare the RF issue with Waco. I was just stating as a historical reference that police departments took notice and seemed to begin to use the tactical form of entry after that occurred. This type of tactical entry should assume that the parties in the home are armed, dangerous and prepared and willing to use deadly force. I just do not see it in this case. I cant help but wonder if a simple phone call into the house stating the police were outside would have been sufficient in this case. Sadly we will never know.

  21. juris imprudent says:

    Waco is emblematic of the problem of militarized law enforcement. BATF conducted that raid (with media in tow) to show off their wicked SWAT skills. Needless to say, that didn’t turn out so well for them, to say nothing of the Davidians. They could’ve arrested Koresh away from the compound at any time – but that wasn’t the point. And THAT is the problem.

    Ironically, I’ve heard that cops that are military reservists have been amongst the most problematic in ME deployments.

    In this case the question MUST be asked – what was likely to happen if the police simply knocked on RF’s door and waited for an answer? Do even the most zealous badge-lickers here (talking ’bout you Jack) think RF would’ve opened the door, said “good evening officer” and started shooting? If you say “yes” to that, congratulations – you are a full blown mental case. Certainly there was NO chance that RF was going to dispose of all of his “grow op” equipment down the toilet, or that if there HAD been a grow op there he could’ve cleaned it all up before answering the door. Dammit, what is wrong with the police being polite to someone with NO history of violence?

    But that just isn’t the way LE does business these days. That wouldn’t give them that big adrenaline rush. Not to mention that the warrant was criminally negligent – NO controlled buys, etc. There is a judge that needs a boot off the bench just as much as a number of cops that should be pushing brooms. Before ANYONE says the warrant was presumptively valid – that was exactly what was claimed about the Kathryn Johnston case. Don’t assume.

    This is your country going down the toilet faster than a dime-bag before a no-knock (or announce and “dynamic entry”) raid. Anyone who can say that the disease is worse then the cure is quite simply, nuts.

  22. price says:

    Supercat, Juris and Burt B: I respect your opinions in the spirit of a good debate. Final statement, because we are getting off the real topic of the RF warrant. There was an arrest warrant for David K. and search warrant for the compound. Did you see all those .50 caliber rifles, 2 million rounds of ammunition, grenades, and underground gun range,? Did you see during the stand off when the people would come to the windows with the babies strapped to their chest., true nut cases, all while David K. was sleeping with the little girls. In the end changes were made.
    Back to the RF issues, I am going to wait until all the evidence comes out. I do believe that he was growing marijuana and not Japanese maple plants. Was RF a big time pot grower, I claim lack of knowledge on grow operations. Could the police have conducted the SW different, well with the outcome it is easy to say yes now. Plenty of blame to go around and still lives are changed forever.

  23. Britt Howard says:

    I don’t know how we got to talking about the David Koresh but, let’s face it, if they would have arrested him on the street instead of a made for media raid, the rest of the cult may have had less resolve with their leader in custody.

    Davidians were nut cases most likely but, that is NO DAMN EXCUSE for endangering Law Enforcement or innocent children(that died btw) because somebody wanted media highlights to stroke their damn egos. If you want to risk your life unnecessarily in tactical adventures, become a mercenary and not a LE officer charged with protecting our rights. Same goes for politicians, they need to run Blackwater not government.

    Forced entry is necessary in many cases but, if you have an easy arrest………why the need to bust through a door? I wouldn’t want to be a LEO and have MY life risked when an easy pick up was an option. Same goes for families of officers.

    Lastly, I’d really appreciate it if some of us would stop using terms like “badge lickers”. Name calling usually is for those that don’t have a reasoned arguement. I can tell that isn’t the case by reading the posts. So there’s no need for it.

    I promise you that there are indeed LE out there that were not happy about how things were handled with RF. Shivers wouldn’t have died, public confidence wouldn’t have been lost, and the lawyers for the CPD wouldn’t have to assist in trying to cover up if things were done simply. This is no way to run a PD and they know it.

    • Don Tabor says:

      Regarding the WACO fiasco, Koresh had invited the two undercover BATF agents across the street to inspect the compound when he learned of their identity. There was no need for a forced entry. Further, Koresh’s brother was a gunsmith with a Class III firearms license, so he was legally entitled to have full automatic weapons at the compound and to let others fire them so long as they remained under his control. (the grenades are another matter, but it has not been determined if any of those had been assembled before the initial raid.)

      So, why the initial raid? The BATF budget was up for review, so they made a big, dramatic raid, accompanied by TV camera’s, to gain favorable publicity. That didn’t really work out well for them.

      So, WACO will always come up in discussions about excessive police militarization, just as Pearl Harbor comes up in discussions about WW2.

  24. price says:

    Britt, i agree the children should not have died and it was ashame the people who protected them killed them. Doc, I guess the weapons did remain under his control? Done with this topic and want to focus on the trial

  25. Jack says:

    Lets talk facts.

    Over the course of the past several days Wilburn has been forced by the people to make numerous corrections to his reporting. Depending on your slant these corrections can be attributed to reporting outright lies or editing errors. I applaud The good Doc for giving him his own area to write. That way others arent guilty by association. I also applaud Wilburn for his excellent retelling of Day 7 events. I knew you could do it. Good Job

  26. juris imprudent says:

    Plenty of blame to go around and still lives are changed forever.

    Sadly, I don’t believe there will be a serious review of the tactics/policy unless RF is acquitted, Mrs. Shivers files a wrongful death suit against CPD, AND at least 1 or 2 cops have a moral epiphany as a result (and openly speak rather than retreating behind the blue wall). The greater tragedy than the lost of Det. Shivers’ life, and the loss of RF’s freedom, is that this whole scenario is doomed to play out again and again.

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