I love policing because of its dynamic complexity. At any radobo call you must please three masters, at the same time! Its hard, but almost ART when done right. Obviously, Stephen Mader did not please the three masters of Law, Politics, and Tactics. The Tactics gods are angry.
Stephen Mader’s Origin Story
Who has angered the Tactics Gods? A fellow Marine / Cop “Stephen Mader.” Here’s his story in brief: On probation, Mader arrives on scene and observes a man with a gun. Mader determines the man isn’t a threat. Despite the suspect waving a gun around, no shots are fired.
But Mader is not alone. When backup arrives they see the suspect pointing a gun at Mader and terminally end the threat, granting the suspect his release. When Stephen Mader returns from leave, he is fired.
America is in shock! Most cops are unsurprised.
Cops serve the aforementioned triumvirate of gods. Any one of these three will strike you with heavenly lightning if they become angry. Allow me to introduce you to the Three: The Law, The Politics, and The Tactics. Each of the three main gods come with a host of demi gods, but more on that amusing aside later.
Suffice to say Mader only satisfied 2/3 with his performance on the call.
The gods are angry
Cop tactics on suspects with guns are very clear. IF the suspect is armed with a gun AND you have the reasonable belief the suspect is about to kill YOU or OTHERS, the gods demand the threat be immediately stopped, so others may live.
Mader decided the suspect was only a suicidal danger to himself, despite a gun being pointed at his chest. Ballsy call, bro. Mader’s partner’s spelt their disagreement in blood.
Yes, the gun was unloaded, but in the cop world, this intriguing fact DOESN’T matter. The gun was present and in play, its actual state is meaningless unless Mader had watched the suspect unload it. It’s simply unreasonable to attempt to determine if a gun is loaded or not during a heated contact.
Politically not shooting the man with a gun is great. Legally either action is acceptable. However, if a gun is pointed at an officer and there is no immidiate action taken to counter this, the Tactics gods will be angered.
Their anger mostly stems from two issues, precedent and safety.
1. Precedent: having the population of America become conditioned to the thought that you can point a gun at an officer and not face lethal consequences is dangerous to all involved. America is so thoroughly protected the concept of “lethal consequences” is anathema to our thinking. There was a lethal consequence for Harambe the Gorilla when the little boy broke into his pen. It sucks, but we value human life above animal life.
2. Safety: Concerning yourself with “but is it loaded/functional” gives the shooter even more of an edge. For similar horror stories hit up OIF/OEF veterans who served later in the conflict than I did. In some cases they had to wait until directly fired upon by men with weapons to return fire. Madness.
THE PROBATION QUANDARY
Crucially, Mader was also on probation. Every cop has a year long period of probation under which they are an at will employee and not protected (as much) from the wrath of the gods. During probation you must not invent tactics. Its a time of testing. If you can’t match the platonic ideal of “police officer” you will not make it. As stated earlier, this basic response to a lethal threat is a “must have” to survive probation.
The Military Theory
Having served myself in the great Sandbox of Tears, I can theorize how this travesty was birthed. Marines perceive themselves as expendable, Cops do not.
Living the life of a pawn, you understand the concept of sacrifice. Mader may have reverted to prior training and accepted his fate of possibly being shot by the suspect if he was wrong. A Marine dying in a mission can easily be determined an “acceptable loss.”
Cops are trained to be smart, be cautious, and survive. A dead officer (outside of an active shooter scenario) is unacceptable tactics.
My theory is Stephen Mader was unable to make the leap and now the tactics gods demand payment in “career.”
You all knew it was coming and here it is! Stephen Mader has filed a lawsuit against his department for firing him. I am no lawyer and have no idea how it will play out (I could ask The Vigilante or Financial Panther for a guest post) but I will say it is political GENIUS to file a lawsuit in today’s climate. Right or wrong the department looks bad and in the end money will exchange hands.
2 Basic Rules to Surviving Probation!
Readers: What is your take on the incident? Is Mader a tactician before his time or a failure to adapt? Should I be thinking “But is it loaded?” before reacting? How will the suit play out? Let me know below!