What Passes for “Heroism” at the Salt Lake City Police Department

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“Evidence shows that the dog was extremely close, in fact within feet of the officer,” simpered Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank in defense of Officer Brett Olsen, who had shot an elderly, arthritic dog named Geist.

Burbank insisted that Olsen, who was overcome with fear by the presence of a retreating, non-aggressive dog, was a “seasoned officer” and a “hero” (aren’t they all) for his role in the 2007 Trolley Square Shooting, because he was among the officers involved in killing the lone gunman after the latter had fatally shot five others.

While Burbank expressed unqualified support for Olsen, he was roused to indignation by the public’s outrage over the incident, which was inspired by a video posted by Sean Kendall, Geist’s anguished owner, following the shooting.

Olsen was among the officers searching for a missing child. Without warning or permission, Olsen invaded the Kendall family’s property, entering an enclosed area where Geist was a threat to nobody – including the costumed trespasser, if Olsen had behaved with a modicum of discipline and regard for property rights.

“Backing up slowly and leaving the residence was not an option?” Kendall asked officers who responded after their comrade had needlessly killed his dog. “Now I have to bury, clean the blood, and take care of my dog because an officer couldn’t back the [expletive deleted] up out of my house.”

In Utah, as elsewhere, police routinely kill dogs who pose no measurable threat to them. Interestingly, postal workers face a far greater risk of injury when confronting unfamiliar canines: In 2013, 27 mail carriers in Utah were bitten by dogs. Postal workers, unlike cops, provide an actual service, albeit at greater expense and with less efficiency than their private competition. When a postal carrier feels threatened by a dog, rather than pretending that he has the authority to kill it he will make arrangements for the owners to pick up their mail at the Post Office.

Chief Burbank’s description of Olsen as a “hero” is fraught with interesting implications regarding what passes for “valor” within the ranks of armed tax-feeders. Last May in California, a house cat intervened to rescue a four-year-old boy who was attacked and bitten by a much larger vicious dog.

Unlike the bold and valiant Officer Olsen, this feline’s first instinct was to protect others despite the risk. What this means, of course, is that the cat was the true peace officer, and Brett Olsen was the real p***y.

2:09 pm on July 1, 2014