The Default Setting is “Overkill”

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“When I see five weirdos in togas stabbing a man in plain view of a hundred people,” declared Detective Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun: From the Files of “Police Squad,” “I shoot the bastards down. That’s my policy.”

“That was a `Shakespeare in the Park’ production of Julius Caesar, you moron!” hissed the Mayor by way of reply. “You killed five actors! Good ones!”

Every once in a while the Heroes in Blue ™ can be seen getting in touch with their collective inner Frank Drebin: Primed to over-react, the police will rush to the scene of a supposed crime, eager to dispense lethal violence, only to learn that nothing sinister is afoot. When they can get away with it, they’ll find some excuse to arrest or at least to assault somebody, if only to avoid wasting the trip.

An incident of that kind recently took place in Bound Brook, New Jersey. Last Tuesday afternoon, a woman heard screams emanating from a house on Winsor Street and called the police. When the police arrived, they were greeted by a man (not identified in media accounts) who explained that the “screams” were merely his reactions to a video game he was playing on his television set.

According to the police account, the man became “irrational,” which prompted an “additional police response.”

Aside from the fact the fellow was over-invested in the outcome of a silly video game, the nature of his “irrational” behavior wasn’t specified. In fact, when the police backup materialized, the man behaved in a completely rational fashion: The told them to leave and slammed the door in their face.

Here’s where the latent “Frank Drebin” gene kicked in for the police: The officers on-scene summoned the local SWAT team, which was “staged” in the parking lot of a nearby high school. After a brief “negotiation,” the victim of this unwarranted police attention surrendered.

For doing nothing at all, apart from forbidding the police to violate his privacy without a warrant or probable cause, the unidentified man was charged with “disorderly conduct,” a catch-all non-offense frequently used to penalize Mundanes whose behavior has, in some way, annoyed the Sanctified Personages in Government-Issued Costumes.

9:34 am on July 17, 2009