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Columns : In My Sights

Responding to a Code Z

Are you ready for a zombie apocalypse?

November 14, 2011  |  by Dave Smith - Also by this author

Illustration: Sequoia Blankenship.
Illustration: Sequoia Blankenship.

The other day I was sitting at a cigar bar in South Carolina talking to some crimefighters about modern problems facing law enforcement. I've heard it said that every generation sees signs of the apocalypse and thinks, "Today is the worst time ever!" And so it was we were lamenting the fall of the Republic and the bad times to come. In the middle of the conversation one of my fellow cigar aficionados simply lowered his smoke and asked, "But what I want to know is, what do you plan to use when the zombies come?"

What followed was a lively discussion of the proper use of force and weapons for serious zombie stopping, as only emotionally undeveloped males can do, involving stabbing, chopping, and shooting. When it was over we all sat back and finished our cigars with a much better outlook on life. It is said a Spartan captain was told the Persians had so many archers that their arrows would block out the sun, to which he replied, "Then we will fight in the shade!" Which was the Spartan way of saying, "And when the zombies come we'll kick their butts, too!"

Whether the threat to a civil society is a criminal, a protester, a tornado, or a zombie, the law enforcement officer will always be the tip of the spear to save the day, solve the crime, rescue the victims, maintain the peace, and restore civilization. The problem is that modern society and its chattering classes often seem to root for the zombies and spend a great deal of time criticizing the heroes of our story.

Zombies have become one of today's hottest subjects. A plethora of TV shows, movies, and novels explore all types of the undead or living dead. Future generations will no doubt attribute this fixation to one or another of our social ills, and one certainly has to admit that there must be some strange social collective fear that has made these critters the subject of so much attention.

For crimefighters, speculative zombie slaying permits us to acknowledge that the times are tough, and permits us a chance to use our imagination and humor to escape, if for a moment, the real issues facing us today. So, dear reader, let us begin. You go to briefing and your sergeant reads a notice about a strange flu going around that seems to be having some odd effects on its victims so any calls involving brain eating will be dispatched as a two-officer call.

An hour later you are facing your first zombie. It's a solo living dead guy who seems preoccupied with getting some of your brain. You would: A) Call your sergeant. B) Use your iPhone to post a Facebook photo of the perp. C) Double tap the poor creature with your carbine. D) All of the above.

Correct answer: D) All of the above. This is too good to keep to yourself and your sergeant is going to get a kick out of this too. What's that you say? You're a shotgun type of zombie hunter? Sure you are, but you need the practice with a carbine! I know some of you are thinking about taking some of the more exotic movie options on duty, but I think your average domestic will be a lot harder to handle when you are walking around with that samurai sword.

Now some of you are thinking all this is pretty silly, and you're right. But in the moment the Spartan captain said his men would fight in the shade, his men laughed and all thoughts of the dark times to come were banished for a time with that one image. Warriors have always used humor to cope, to heal, to prepare, and I think that it is in these jokes and silly exercises that we escape for a moment the horror of fatal accidents, shootings, storms, and social unrest.

The zombie has become a symbol of the mindless tragedy and crises that haunt the modern world, and it is the job of law enforcement to race to the rescue in these moments of chaos and create order. So I think it is a good exercise to, just for a few minutes, escape to the world of the zombie hunter and choose your weapons. Good hunting.

Dave Smith is the creator of "Buck Savage" and a retired law enforcement officer from Arizona.


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