Soviet-Style “Warning Shots” in Chicago

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Before the collapse of the Soviet Union sent him into exile in Branson, Missouri, Russian expatriate comedian Yakov Smirnov made a good career telling jokes underscoring the contrast between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.

One of his more memorable lines dealt with a critical difference between American police and their counterparts in Soviet Russia.

“What I really like about American police is that they fire warning shots,” Smirnov explained. “In the Soviet Union, the police just shoot you and call that a warning to the next guy.”

The new deadly force policy going into effect in Chicago next Monday is close kindred to the Soviet approach, as described by Smirnov: Police will now be permitted to shoot at fleeing vehicles if the driver or a passenger is suspected of committing a felony (including, presumably, non-violent felonies, such as those involving narcotics possession).

Previously, police were permitted to shoot only if the driver’s conduct threatened their lives or the lives of others.

Perhaps Yakov Smirnov should dust off his Soviet-era routine and adapt it to satirize the emerging police state here in the USSA.

11:17 am on July 29, 2009