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I watched a movie recently which depicted a dark side of law enforcement. The movie opened with a car chase involving a suspect and several police vehicles. The car chase ended when the suspect abandoned the vehicle in which he had fled the supposed crime scene at the front of the apartment complex in which he resided. The lead police officers involved in the car chase cleared the apartment complex floor by floor till they cornered the suspect in his apartment after he had unsuccessfully attempted to flee with his wife and young son.
After trying to make a forced entry into the apartment of the suspect where he had barricaded himself and his family, the officers were out for blood as their colleague was in a critically hospitalised due to the actions of the suspect. The moment the suspect moved close to one of the windows in his apartment, they deceitfully called out gun and opened fire in an attempt to silence him from telling his side of the story. A sympathetic police officer calmed things down by ordering all officers on the scene to cease fire and stand down as the suspect had posed no imminent threat at the time.
Thereafter other police officers arrived at the scene including a negotiator. However, the suspect insisted on communicating only with the officer who had shown some sympathy towards his situation. He insisted that he had been set up by the police officers who had shot at him and his family and that there was video evidence to back up his claim.
Upon the insistence of the sympathetic cop footage of the suspect prior to the car chase was found. The video proved that the suspect was truthful when he claimed he had been a victim of entrapment. Via means of flashback in the movie, the events that preceded the commencement of the car chase were revealed. It turns out that our main character had been in a tight spot financially and had sought means to make some money.
Unfortunately for him the offer which came his way involved committing a crime. His case may be likened to that of a hungry dog who had a juicy bone dangled in its face, he simply couldn’t resist taking a bite at it. However, upon meeting his would-be accomplice, he had a change of heart and opted out of the criminal venture.
He was indeed walking away as shown in the footage but was coerced back in reluctantly to have a rethink by his would-be accomplice at the prompting of his superior officer. It was at this point that the other cops involved in the entrapment operation decided to roll in and make an arrest. Upon sighting the oncoming police vehicle with blaring sirens, our character hops in to the driver’s seat of the vehicle and zooms off to avoid being arrested as he knew he would likely be convicted irrespective of his attempt to back off from committing the crime. In the process of driving off he ran over his would-be accomplice who turned out to be an undercover cop.
Several conversations took place amongst the police officers in the midst of the standoff. One conversation was particularly striking. When the lead police officer in the chase was briefing the head of the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team and the negotiator, he mentioned the specific gun model which the suspect had in his possession. This prompted one of the officers to sarcastically remark that if the lead officer had given the suspect the weapon for him to be so specific as to the gun model. This was an indictment of sorts that such a scenario was not an uncommon one.
Matters took a turn for the worse when the cop who had been run over by the suspect eventually died as a result of the injuries he had sustained. This changed the whole narrative as the suspect had now become a cop killer. The implication of this development was that his chances of survival had nose dived as the police force would be coming at him with extreme prejudice. The story ended tragically with the suspect being taken out by a sniper without having a chance to have his day in court.
The scenario depicted in the movie of tempting “would-be” law offenders with the prospects of committing a crime is a known practise in the law enforcement community across the globe. The word entrapment has several definitions but with regards to law enforcement, the definitions below are especially relevant.
“instigation or inducement of a person into the commission of a crime by an officer of the law” Britannica.com
“is the conception and planning of an offense by an officer or agent, and the procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion or fraud of the officer or State agent”. Wikipedia.com
A pertinent question that arises on the basis of the aforementioned definitions is,
What is the ultimate goal of law enforcement?
Is it to lure people to commit crimes (especially when the individual has no prior criminal record) so that they can be thrown into jail
to prevent such individuals from committing the crime in the first instance ?