Eagerness to seize upon the ideas of the killers is going to lead to mistakes, not to a remedy for the problem of mass shootings.
In an earlier post, I wondered about the claim of the police that they had not viewed the Youtube videos posted by the UCSB shooter. The reports had not made clear whether the UCSB shooter’s parents had failed to notify the police of the videos or the police had simply incompetently failed to look at them. Well now we know and the story may be worse than I suspected.
It turns out that the police had been told about the videos – and somehow did not look at them. That represents malpractice in my book. But it gets worse. Initially, the police announced that they had not been told about the videos and a few days later changed their story, acknowledging that they had, but had failed to look at them. And the police have refused to explain why they initially reported a false story.
In my view, the most likely explanation for this failure is that the police wanted to avoid responsibility. They initially deny their responsibility when the public’s focus is on them and then correct the explanation a couple of days later.
Sadly, the police are no different than other government officials and agencies. They often behave incompetently and then attempt to avoid responsibility. When private businesses behave negligently, they get sued. But not so with the police. Sadly, government officials often escape responsibility. We don’t know whether a competent police force would have prevented the loss of lives at UCSB. But we do seem to know that the police behaved improperly both in their primary behavior and then in an attempt to avoid responsibility.