Dressed To Kill

A man with curly black hair and olive complexion set out on his early morning run in the downtown section of a major metropolitan area. Uncertain of the fall weather, he dresses in layers, the last of which is a billowy parka. In a pack strapped to his waist is a music-playing device, with wires running from his pack to earpieces tucked almost invisibly into his ears.

Toward the end of his run he is breathing heavily, his face dripping with sweat. As the music continues to play loudly in his ears, he is singing along with it. Remembering that there is a coffee shop in the nearby transit station, he turns to jog up the stairs into the station, passing police officers on the way. Before entering the shop, the man, slows to a cool-down walk, pacing back and forth to slow his breathing. He continues to listen to the music and repeat the lyrics to himself.

Minutes later, a crowd gathers, as the man lays dead on the pavement, the victim of a single gunshot wound to the head, music still playing into his now blood-filled ears. What happened?

Welcome to USA 2005. No, this is not a new video game. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, following a week of schooling in Israel, decided that they liked what they saw and heard enough to recommend its adoption on America’s streets.

New guidelines issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police authorize a police officer to shoot-to-kill any suspected terrorist by shooting him in the head. "You need to get him dead as soon as possible." Says Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney. (Washington, August 3, 2005).

How will police identify a terrorist before they put a bullet through his head? The IACP lays down the following terrorist profile: "wearing a heavy coat or jacket in warm weather" (no definition of what constitutes a heavy coat or what is considered warm weather) "carrying a briefcase, dufflebag or backpack with protrusions or visible wires" (make sure it zips neatly shut and get Bluetooth) "might display nervousness" (take a Xanax before leaving your house) "unwillingness to make eye contact" (shyness is now punishable by death) "excessive sweating" (no definition of how much you are permitted to sweat without risking your life) "might mumble prayers" (such as praying that nobody shoots you in the head) or "pacing back and forth in front of a venue" (no definition of what constitutes pacing or what constitutes a venue).

Think this scenario cannot get worse? Think again. While previous use-of-force guidelines required police officers to be faced with an imminent threat before deploying deadly force, the new guidelines eliminate this pesky threshold. "An officer just needs to have a u2018reasonable basis’ to believe that the suspect can detonate a bomb" under the new guidelines. (Washington, August 3, 2005).

This guideline has not been adopted by every police agency in the United States. You still have time to clean up your act. Get in shape to avoid sweating, take a Dale Carnegie course to get over shyness, learn to pray in silence, invest in wireless technology, buy a large enough backpack or briefcase, and above all else, do not overdress for weather conditions.

August 10, 2005