Peter J. Mancus
Attorney at Law
Gravenstein Ave. So., Suite 3
Sebastopol, CA 95472
October 22, 2000
Founder, CCOPS [Concerned
Citizens Opposed to Police States]
Hartford, WI 53027
CONVERSATION WITH SEBASTOPOL, CA POLICE OFFICER ROBERT SMITH
I live in Sebastopol, California, which is approximately 60 miles north
of San Francisco and approximately 8 miles east of the Pacific coast line.
Sebastopol is a bedroom community of approximately 8,000 people. ....
What follows is true. The date was late 1999. The scene was a beautiful,
sunny day, in a neighborhood at Dowd Drive, in Sebastopol, California.
walking my dog when I saw a man, in civilian clothes, walking his dog, coming
toward me. When this man and I crossed each other's path, I started a
conversation with this man. The following is a faithful, paraphrased, recreation
of this conversation, not an exact quote.
In the dialogue that follows,
PM stands for me, Peter Mancus, and RS stands for Robert Smith, who was the
other man walking his dog. This Robert Smith is a white male; approximately
5'9"; approximately 145-150 pounds; approximately 50-55 years old. He is wiry;
athletic, trim looking; he has a flat abdomen; medium brown hair; bushy
mustache; a gaunt look; and tight facial skin with deep smile lines [diagonal
lines along nose, above mouth.]
PM: Excuse me. May I please talk to you
PM: Are you a Sebastopol Police Officer?
PM: I thought so. I normally see you from the chest up, in blue uniform,
behind the steering wheel of a patrol car.
RS: [No comment.]
RS: Bob Smith.
PM: Have a question for you. How do you feel
about gun control?
RS: I don't have any problem with most people having
guns. It is a mistake to over rely on the police. We cannot be every where. You
have a right to guns. You should get proper training. I own guns. I like to
shoot. I can understand how others would like to keep their guns. I think some
people in Sebastopol might be unsafe with guns, but it is their right. They make
me nervous about how they handle their guns.
PM: Have another question for
you. If civil authority gave you an order to go house to house to disarm law-
abiding citizens who never misused their firearms, what would you do? And why?
RS: Don't worry about that. I do not think that will ever happen. I've been
a cop for 25 years. I do not anticipate receiving that order before I retire. I
do not believe our chief [recently retired Dwight Crandall] would ever give that
order. I think the chief would be extremely reluctant to issue us that order. I
just don't think he would do it. I am very confident that I will retire before I
ever get that order.
PM: Thank you for sharing that with me, but please do
not avoid the question. The question is [and I repeated it.] If you were given
that order, what would you do? Assume that you were given that order, what would
you do? [For several minutes Officer Smith gave me evasive, non-responsive
answers, while I did my best to keep him focused on giving me a direct answer
responsive to my specific question.]
RS: [Eventually] I would carry out the
RS: Because it is an order?
PM: Any other reasons?
RS: Yes. I've been a cop for 25 years. I have worked hard. I have put up
with a lot--stress, danger, heartache, etc. I would not like doing it but I
would do it [enforce the order].
PM: What if the home owner citizen [who is
otherwise law-abiding] tells you something like this, "Officer. I respect your
title. Thank you for your service. But I am not going to give you my guns.
Society and the courts have gone off the deep end. They are wrong. I have
rights. My rights limit your duty, regardless of what society says. I am going
to stand up for those rights. I am not going to let you cross the threshold into
my home to confiscate my guns. I have never misused my guns. I am not
responsible for what criminals do with their guns. I am not a criminal. I wish
you well. I harbor no animosity toward you. Please. Just leave in peace, without
my guns. Stay on that side of my door, and you are a peace officer. Cross the
threshold to my home to confiscate my guns, and you are a government goon. I
will support and obey a peace officer. I will not support and I will not obey a
government goon," what would you do then?
RS: I would not leave. I would
enforce the order.
PM: What if the citizen then made it politely and
tactfully clear to you that if you want the guns, you will have to use lethal
force because he [or she] is willing to use lethal force to resist? What would
you do then?
RS: In that case, the situation is no longer academic. I would
without that citizen's guns. I would enforce the order.
Even after the citizen warns you of the personal physical risk you take? Even
after the citizen urges you to leave in peace?
I have received an order. I am a cop. It is my job to enforce the law. This
hypothetical citizen you've described is a gun nut. He is willing to
his life and his freedom for his damn guns. When it comes down to his guns and
my retirement benefit, I am not going to give my department any excuse for
terminating me, for keeping me from retiring and collecting my retirement
benefit. I am not going to let my fellow officers down. I will carry my weight.
I will do my job. If necessary, I will become a vicious bull dog to enforce that
order. I want to collect my retirement. I want to keep my job. My wife and I are
counting on me keeping my job. We need the money. I am not going to let my
family or my department down.
PM: So, would you be willing to kill that
otherwise law-abiding citizen to disarm him? To enforce your order?
PM: And, assuming you did that and that you survived that encounter, would
you then go to the next house hold to enforce your order?
And what if that citizen told you the same thing as the other one that you just
killed? What would you do then?
RS: I would enforce my order.
Including using lethal force to kill that citizen, too?
after you do that, would you then move on to the next house? And the next?
PM: Is that how you treat citizens who paid your salary via
their taxes for 25 years? Would you really do this? Shift after shift until
Sebastopol was a gun free zone?
RS: Hey! Do not get upset with me. I would
just be doing my job. If anyone has a problem with me doing my job, they should
obey my command to surrender their guns to me and then take it up with a judge.
They have a legal duty to obey my order. If they threaten me with lethal force,
I will take care of myself, which will be bad for whomever resisted my order.
PM: Have you ever heard of the "Nuremberg Principle"?
Do you know what that principle is?
PM: Have you ever received
any training about the "Nuremberg Principle"?
PM: So you would
just continue going from house to house, shift after shift, day after day,
enforcing that order, killing everyone who refused to surrender their guns?
RS: Do not get upset with me. I am just a small cog in a big piece of
machinery. If the citizens want to stay alive, they simply just have to
surrender their guns, as ordered.
PM: Is there any order you would not
enforce to keep your retirement benefit? To protect your income?
RS: I do
not want to continue this conversation. [Officer Smith then walked away.]
Almost a year after this exchange with Officer Smith, I am still disturbed.
The implications of this exchange are alarming. I did not like how quickly
Officer Smith was willing to reduce me, and people like me, to gun nut status. I
do not like Officer Smith's mind set that his retirement benefits are more
important than the rights and lives of gun nuts.
Sebastopol Police Officer
Robert Smith exists. I did not make him up. It is a mere coincidence that his
last name is Smith. I described him with
particularity on purpose. Good
citizens need to know what Officer Robert Smith told me, and they need to know
what he looks like so they will have a fighting chance to stay alive and remain
Peter J. Mancus
A Conversation With Sebastopol Police Officer
Robert Smith © Peter J. Mancus 2000
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