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Dean Scoville

Dean Scoville

Associate Editor of Police Magazine and a retired patrol supervisor and investigator with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Dean Scoville has received multiple awards for government service.
Patrol

Trayvon Martin: The Gunfire Next Time

Perhaps we can avert another Rodney King community-wide beatdown until the next racially-tinged episode is played out.

April 04, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

I have never visited a dude ranch; my only familiarity with cattle branding has been through readings and viewings. And while the latter has afforded me the opportunity to hear the singe of the iron, I have felt neither its burn nor the muscular spasms of the creature that does. The odor of burnt cowhide has evaded me, too, though I imagine it to be somewhat acrid. In any event, the procedure looks damned painful, and I am thankful my name isn't Elsie.

It was news coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting that got me thinking about "branding" and its various connotations. At an immediate and literal level, it conjures up images of a rancher establishing his proprietary interest in livestock. On another level, it refers to a marketing strategy wherein a product connotes the kind of vicarious imagery associated with certain names or images.

Branding has also been a part of our racial history, most horrifyingly in its literal use on slaves by slave owners. In a more colloquial sense, and in matters of civil discourse on race, many contemporary blacks and whites attempt to brand themselves and one another variously as "heroes," "victims," and "suspects."

We've been seeing quite a bit of this the past couple of weeks. And as some branding even proves profitable, Trayvon Martin's mother, Sabrina Fulton, has filed two applications to secure trademarks containing her late son's name: "I Am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon."

For a yoctosecond, I found myself initially jumping on the P.C. bandwagon believing that if Trayvon was white that he'd still be jabbering on his cell phone today. But as the back and forth allegations of "racist shooting" and "slanted media bias" gained momentum, I wondered if the string-pulling puppeteers of the three-ring big top—CBS, NBC, and ABC—hadn't gotten the better of me. A pervasive sense of deja vu stuck me, as well. Haven't I been here before? As Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and our Commander-in-Chief weighed in, other names likewise asserted themselves on the forefront of my consciousness, names such as Tawana Brawley and Duke accuser Crystal Mangum, and I decided to follow the advice articulated in my last blog: Look closer.

As I examined the details through the filtrate of other blogs, news bites, and exposé segments, it became increasingly apparent to me that the aggregate efforts of the "if it bleeds, it leads" constituency was far less a pursuit of any perceived justice at work than just the usual bait-baiting orchestrated as a flashpoint for lawsuits, profiteering, and half-assed justifications for extorted favors to segments of a "vicariously aggrieved" citizenry.

But most ominous was the realization of the societal implications of such efforts and how they had played out too many times before in places such as Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, and my own somewhat beloved Los Angeles. Might the race-baiting pundits conceivably foment yet another riot? Surely they would be more responsible than that, no? That perhaps whether or not Zimmerman's shooting of Martin was justified, that maybe there'd been enough gunfire for a while?

The pessimist in me got the better of me then, and I was left to wonder if the gunfire next time may be in the direction of some poor cop called in on his day off to deal with a riot borne out of something that he was not a party to. Might his name end up on the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall like York (Penn.) Police officer Henry Schaad, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy Ronald Ludlow, and so many other officers who died due to societal forces beyond their control?

As I write this I am growing cautiously optimistic. Already, more and more media watchdogs are exposing these major news outlets for the charlatans that they are, and some of that initial outrage is dissipating.

Perhaps we might well avert another Rodney King community-wide beatdown until the next racially-tinged episode is played out.

Unfortunately, it might just prove to be a momentary lull. For where there's smoke, there's ire, and there will never be a shortage of people capable of seeing things in black and white through the murky grey of spent gunpowder.

Tags: Trayvon Martin Shooting, Police-Media Relations, Racial Discrimination Claims


Comments (26)

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26

Anonymous @ 4/4/2012 8:43 PM

Those of us who are not police but are concerned about the issues and don't like your dismissal of them would like to remind you that the police are not without their racist shame. Remember Abner Louima? Perhaps, you would do well to not cast stones when your own house is so fragile.

Paul Laska @ 4/5/2012 5:08 AM

This is a case where folks who should no better, and indeed should have a responsibility to urge restraint and support for the system to be allowed to function (vis a vis investigation and judicial review) instead weighed in emotionally for PC reasons, ratings, or other wrong reasons. The result, I fear, will be violence, whether random acts or mass violence such as riots, no matter what the ending will now be...

Annon @ 4/5/2012 6:01 AM

Previous commenter: those officers were wrong, and paid dearly, as well they should. Both sides had their day in court, as all should.

TimFromLA @ 4/5/2012 6:47 PM

Well Annon, George Zimmerman has not been in court. And before any of you coppers jump down the throats of people who want Zimmerman to go to trial, and calling them a bunch of P.C. cowards, is it P.C. to complain about:

Indiana House Approves Bill That Allows Homeowners To Kill Police Officers
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/03/02/indiana-house-approves-bill-that-allows-homeowners-to-kill-police-officers/

Signed by a non-P.C. Republican Governor Mitch Daniel.

Can't have it both ways. You either change the Stand Your Ground Law or keep both laws. At least Daniel is consistent. You can kill both a civilian or a cop, stand your ground and get off free.

Now that's being P.C.

Bob@Az. @ 4/5/2012 7:40 PM

Wow. Anonymous, Annon & TimfromLA, you folks sure must have some pretty keen eyesight to read all that BS that must have been printed in micro type. What I got was someone saying that the Big 3 media shapers were trying to stir up trouble, merely to amuse themselves & make money, of course. And from these rants, it worked.

C. @ 4/5/2012 10:48 PM

The writer forgot about the leader of the three ring circus: Fox News

Tschako @ 4/5/2012 11:56 PM

Gee, I thought this was a LE magazine/forum. You people are clearly set to blame the police for everything. You're part of the problem. It seems it's already too late; no matter what the outcome, if it's not the hanging of Zimmerman, there will be what is quaintly called by the PC folks, "social unrest" Thanks Reverend Al and the devoted media.

Sick of the Blame Game @ 4/6/2012 5:13 AM

Who's talking about blaming the Police? If the Sanford, PD screwed up the subsequent investigation than that deserves to be addressed independently of what Zimmerman and Martin did or did not do. Every LEO should want and expect accountability for all in the field. Otherwise we get another Atlanta Olympics investigation botched by the Fumbling, Bumbling, Investigators who also botched the Anthrax investigation. That is one issues. This IS NOT a Police involved shooting so let's not use it for a platform regardless of whatside you are on, racially or otherwise. Too many Cops have run off at the mouth about this issue and we wonder where the rhetoric comes from whenever there is a Police involved shooting. What I am not hearing is why Zimmerman who had a prior arrest was A) allowed to be in community watch and B) had a CCW permit? Any dumbass can see what would eventually happen regardless whether with a civilian or a LEO.
Stop blaming the media for their reaction and then start doing the same thing except in uniform. Same for you Scoville. How you mixed in the memorial with this is disingenuous. Try as hard as you can, this incident has nothing to do with that except to highlight what you really think despite what you write for public consumption. Some of you have forgotten that being a cop doesn't make you automatically right about everything. If you were, you'd probably have a better job.

AZBIGDOG @ 4/6/2012 5:22 AM

In a country where being a minority appears to be a right to do as one feels like doing regardless of whether right or wrong you are a victim of white oppression. It appears that being a minority or a student or a fan allows you to riot, damage property and kill others just because your team won or lost, is the norm now. Something akin to the fall of Rome and the coliseums maybe. Either way no matter what happens Zimmerman is forever guilty in the eyes of everyone, without a trial and by the media who has enforced the standard that if they say he's guilty, he is guilty.

Tom @ 4/6/2012 5:50 AM

I don't normally comment, but all of you are missing part of this picture. First, Dean is correct in saying that the media, Sharpton, and Jackson are pronouncing sentence without all of the information. (Typical) Second, Zimmerman's prior charge was dismissed. Third, the Sanford Police took Zimmerman into the station for questioning, and were insructed to release him by the local prosecutor, citing the "Stand Your Ground" law. And that is what it is, a LAW. Whether you like it or not, we are sworn to uphold it. More and more information is spilling out, with NBC backing off of their initial reports. And to Sick: there is no better job. I love what I have been doing since 1995, and wouldn't do anything else. And you are welcome for the freedom to state your opinion, regardless of how it makes you sound.

Capt David LACO Retired @ 4/6/2012 7:47 AM

My prediction is because of the media hype, Zimmerman will be arrested....his state doctrine on self defense will prevail and he will be found not guilty....there will be rioting....the feds will come in and arrest Zimmerman on some civil rights deal..he will be found guilty....there will be happiness rioting.....sound familiar?

Dave @ 4/6/2012 8:13 AM

Dean is right about the talking heads and another opportunity to twist a story that grabs the attention of viewers and readers alike. Geez, ZImmerman has been called a private security officer, crime watch team captain and vigilante by all of the news reporters, so they can't even get that little detail straight. I don't think anyone can deny that we are still evolving and that racial stereotypes and racist rhetoric still run rampant. Sanford PD is in the spotlight, for both right and wrong reasons. I don't believe Zimmerman should be tried before a proper trial; if a police officer had done the shooting, would not his or her gun have been seized? That one causes me to scratch my head... and Dean, I think you crossed a journalistic line using yoctosecond, when nanosecond would have worked just fine and wouldn't have caused the reader to look it up... don't forget your audience brother.

Jim Andring @ 4/6/2012 9:09 AM

Dear Anonymous, our house is not fragile. Individuals within our house may be, but our house stands strong. Our house protects you, even when you can't protect yourself. In fact, especially when you cannot protect yourself. So before you throw stones at the police, look within. Or better yet, try on our shoes. Do better, if you can. I invite you. Depending on your abilities, we may even need you. But out of ignorance, and I hope not out of stupidity, you are throwing rocks yourself. Any society that makes war against it's police had better learn to make friends with it's enemies.

JimA

Tschako @ 4/6/2012 9:26 AM

'Sick of the blame game" You don't seem to be sick of it, as you join right with the blame. Tom and AZBigDog have it down right: It's the best job in this country, bar none. I've been in it since '61, and yes I've made some mistakes, admited them, and moved on. Try to remember we're there when it happens or just after. We're the ones who first try to make sense of it, and we have no agenda, like the media, to prejudice our decisions. We don't make money depending on our decisions. PC is the cancer that is killing this world.

Davesam25G @ 4/8/2012 8:40 PM

From previous training in this area for “education purposes only”, as it seems to fit this whole case as in many with emotions and after an investigation as this is fluid area: “Media Brutality and lack of ethical responsibility in the reporting fairness both sides’ things do not always appear as the, it may seem. The stories and images released to the public (and continuously replayed) are the salacious ones that will get the most publicity. Charges of brutality or excessive force (in this case watch member shooting a teenager) are just the type of stories dominant media outlets love. Most of the public believes whatever the media portrays and you become the victim of media spin-to-sell or better yet tried in the court of public opinion; due process civil rights become a mockery (Guilty until proven innocent is watchword-this can happen on both sides of any fence if not balanced and measured)! And once investigated and either unfounded/founded and if unfounded the story gets buried or a fast death- and you are left in the aftermath of wondering where the storm came from that blew you away! I say let’s wait until this has been investigated and then go from there and if wrong when do you see apologies or I was wrong not often!

Kevin @ 4/10/2012 1:08 PM

Scoville's piece is typical and expected...a another white guy who sees truth and justice as something that started 20 years ago...the sins of your father and father's father have created the racism that we live with today. Interesting how you omitted Fox News from the list of evil media purveyors. Next time try writing a piece with a little more objectiveness...this way you will bring more credibility to yourself and law enforcement profession in general.

Jason Barnes @ 4/25/2012 4:46 PM

At the recent bail hearing the prosecution admitted that it had "no evidence" to contradict Zimmerman's account. Zimmerman was also supported by evidence including the facial and scalp wounds. It is clear by now that people like Sharpton and Jackson and Obama and even worse, are using the matter for their own selfish ends ... and as far as they are concerned, the facts be damned. It appears that the intent more-or-less, is to throw Zimmerman to the sharks in hope of appeasing the African-American outcry. Or at least appeasing the rabble-leaders Jackson, Sharpton, et al.

With such scanty "evidence" it is very likely that the jury will acquit. Indeed, on the evidence, the judge may throw out the case ... though it would take heavy huevos for the judge to do that.

The significant question is whether media and agitator activities have brought things to the point where, if Zimmerman walks, there will be riots.

30yearLEO @ 4/25/2012 5:14 PM

Blacks and the media operate with one commonality, emotion. It need not be right, it needs only to stir emotion. It need not be reasonable, it needs only to raise and emotion. It need not be logical, it only needs to sell by emotion. Otherwise the logical, reasonable thing to do is allow the system to work like it has for every other Trayvon killed in the past few years most were blacks killed by blacks but wait, there is no profit or overwhelming emotion to be gained by blacks being upset about blacks killing blacks. Only anyone else killing a black is note worthy, emotional, and most importantly profitable.

Mark Tarte @ 4/25/2012 5:21 PM

Of course, the poster "Anonymous" likes to bring up aberrations of a criminal person who was wearing a cop's uniform. But of course, "Anonymous" won't ID himself because like those who throw stones, (and other acts of vandalism and crime) they like to do so out of sight and in the dark. As far as the article goes, once again well said Dean.

Kenneth @ 4/25/2012 5:22 PM

I feel for the jurors who are chosen in this trial. If they rule by the evidence and find Zimmerman innocent, then there will be riots in the streets (Watts)...and their lives will be in danger from the Black Panthers and others of like ilk. If they find guilty due to fear of reprisal then Zimmerman will have been screwed........go figure.

Jason Barnes @ 4/25/2012 5:40 PM

The "stand your ground" law has nothing to do with this case. Here, Zimmerman was on his back, having his head pounded on the pavement by a hulking 6'2" football player. Zimmerman had no way to flee; he was trapped, and with deadly force being used against him, was morally and legally justified in clearing leather and firing to save his life.

The "stand your ground" law comes into effect when someone has a chance to back away. It is a Red Herring to talk about it here.

Incidentally, the young Martin had quite a track record. He'd been expelled from school more than once. Why? Possession of burglar tool/weapon (a sharpened large slot head screwdriver); possession of stolen property (women's jewelry); evidence of marijuana possession and (according to some accounts) dealing; and other causes.

gp cobb @ 4/25/2012 8:23 PM

The author could have skipped this one and made more friends,
Note to Editor: past time to close or pull this tread, JMO.

Dustin Penner @ 4/25/2012 8:59 PM

Wow folks. First off people stop hiding behind "anon" names and put your name to your comments. Sick of people hiding but blasting someone else by name. Grow a set and tell is who
You are. Second the MAJORITY of police would lay down their life trying to protect you for small $ a year. Ease up already. Your painting with a very large brush. You wouldn't hesitate to call 911 when someone is in your house with a gun...so stop painting all officers with one brush.

Robert @ 4/26/2012 5:37 AM

Zimmerman will get his day in court and the vague details that occurred between the time he called 911 and the a-- beating he got will come out and a jury will decide if the elements of the crime equal the charge. NBC should be forced off the air for 30 days for editing the 911 call that they broadcast. In my own metro area, a vigil was held in honor of Trayvon with young men in hoodies bearing signs asking, "am I next?" The sad irony is that they are far more likely to be murdered by criminal gangs in their neighborhood than by CCW holders on the neighborhood watch. Banning firearms, restricting self defense will not cause the equality to spring forth. appy commkn senze to your own behavior and teach your children to behave in a civil fashion, Time has made this country less racist than it was 20 years ago. I don't have room to go on, if everyone took personal responsibility and developed the inner strength of self-restraint, we wouldn't see these kinds of problems.

ocravon @ 4/26/2012 6:02 AM

Hmmmm.... standing your ground does not involve following, or chasing the person walking through your gated community. If Trayvon was being chased or threatened by Zimmerman, I think Trayvon screwed up and decided he too had a right to stand his ground. The fight started, Trayvon was winning, and Zimmerman decided he had to save his own life by shooting the person he chose to chase, and confront. Both stood their ground. One is dead, the other may go to prison for a long time. BOTH LOST!

let the cops do the cop work.... defend yourself and family, but dont go looking for trouble!

Rick @ 4/26/2012 6:05 AM

Remember the Rodney King riots? LAPD was found innocent because they followed departmental policy and LA burned. If Zimmerman is found innocent, the same thing is going to happen; race inspired riots. If he is found guilty, the leftist/socialists will go hog wild trying to undo the firearms rights of citizens; starting with Florida's Castle Doctrine law.

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