Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Fitting Tribute To Police Officer Eric Kelly: Correct The Problem That Prevented His Rescue

Pittsburgh police officers could profitably devote a measure of attention, as the trial of Richard Poplawski proceeds, to this point:

Pittsburgh's police bureau has not investigated, identified, or corrected the deficiencies in training, equipment, and/or command execution that prevented rescuers from reaching Eric Kelly as he bled in the middle of a street for the extended period during which his colleagues watched Officer Kelly die.

Officer Kelly deserved better that day. Other officers deserve better today.

Infytune: A Change Is Gonna Come, Billy Preston


Anonymous said...

So now you know more than the police department about their business. Must be nice to know everything. So how come your just writing this crummy blog?

Anonymous said...

I have only two questions:

1) Was the B.E.A.R. fueled up and ready to go in the event of any emergency before this incident took place?

2) Did the S.W.A.T. have .50 caliber ammo on hand that day?

Infinonymous said...

Those are reasonable questions. Are they leading to this question: Why was a suitable rescue vehicle, defended by suppression fire of adequate quality from superior points (rooftops), never deployed?

Anonymous said...

Really????You think those guys didn't do EVERYTHING they could to help the fallen officers? Really? Are you SERIOUS?

What the f&@K is wrong with you??? You had to bring this up today , when the trial is on? What, you figure get a jab in at the Mayor while every body is paying attention? Over the dead bodies of HEROES?

What is WRONG with you?

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the Police use this vehicle http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_506389.html to rescue Officer Kelly?

Was it broken down that day?
On loan to another Police Department? Locked in a garage? Perhaps it was out of diesel fuel?

Why didn't S.W.A.T. use armor piercing weapons/ammo to take out Poplawski? Did they forget to bring the right weapons? Did they run out of ammo? Did they fail to stock the appropriate ammo for the right weapons?

Officers can only work with the equipment that they have on hand during any given emergency.

Infy - keep asking these questions. The families of our fallen heros deserve answers.

Anonymous said...

The URL for the above comment is:

On The Job said...

This citizen/blogger is asking all the right questions. And should be commended for it. The negative comments are way off base.

This officer thanks you Infinonymous.

Officer Bob's Back-Up said...

Sure sounds to me like Infinonynmous knows what he is talking about at 113 pm

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:20 -

The Bureau of Police is a police department, not an Army light infantry unit deployed on combat missions in hostile foreign lands. I doubt that armor-piercing rounds were standard-issue at that time. I assume they have some now, but equally, I assume they're not disposed to disclose that information.

I can't speak to why the Bureau didn't deploy the vehicle that most closely resembled a military assault vehicle, but knowing police officers as I do, I have to trust that they did everything that they knew to do and were trained to do in furtherance of saving their brethren, and that it is highly unlikely that in the same circumstances, we would see a similar outcome.

What happened on April 4, 2009 was a tragedy. Lives were taken, families robbed of loving sons, brothers, husbands, fathers.

I have a problem in accepting that the procedures weren't changed. Most police officers pray before, during and after every shift that they make it home to their loved ones, and I share that hope.

I am more apt to believe that whatever procedures were changed are ones unlikely to be shared with the public, and for good reason.

The cops, for good, for bad, or otherwise, aren't in the business of burying their fellow brethren due to fatalities in the line of duty.

We can argue about the small percentage of bad cops who make it harder for the good ones. We can and should demand better reporting and greater accountability from the police generally because they should be accountable to the public they are sworn to serve but I think we must start from the vantage point of respect and reverence for those who answer the call and walk into life-threatening situations to keep us safe.

15 years ago this week, a Pittsburgh police officer was dragged from Shadyside to Point Breeze when his hand got caught in a car trying to arrest three guys who were driving around in a car reported stolen. He took his free hand, grabbed his service revolver and shot and killed the front and rear passengers and wounded the driver.

As incredible as that story sounded, I for one supported the belief that that officer deserved not to be dragged up Fifth Avenue in the dark of night in a car driving at speeds in excess of 60 mph because some guys didn't want to get arrested for possession of crack cocaine while driving around in a stolen vehicle.

That doesn't change my belief that beating the snot out of an honor-roll viola player walking home from grandma's house one night doesn't deserve a criminal investigation.

If Infinonymous has made no other salient point in these many years it IS that our public safety Bureaus tend to protect their own, and I trust that they have thoroughly reviewed what happened that fateful morning, reviewed their procedures and can prevent what happened on 4/4/09 from happening again, if not for the cause of public safety then for the cause of POLICE safety.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:31 -

I don't believe the Bureau stocks "Ma Deuce".

Even though the M107 .50 caliber assualt rifle is on the market, that isn't a cheap date. Neither is the Browning M2.

Should we the taxpayers buy them some new weapons? You bet.

Pardon my recollection, but the three officers who were viciously gunned down wouldn't have had access to those weapons if we had them, they were the first responders.

And I think at least responded to the call for service in his personal vehicle (talk about dedication).

We can all contemplate "what-ifs", maybe they could have saved Eric Kelly had they been able to cover the emergency personnel long enough to get him to safety, but what would have prevented them from being shot in the first place considering that they were patrol officers and were clearly outgunned.

Perhaps if the EOC had shared that there were guns in the house and that this guy had a history, they would have waited for SWAT.

The first officer on the scene was shot in the head, at the door.

We should ask these questions, for the good of those who risk life and limb to protect us, but I think we have to be careful about where we take these lines of questions.

Infinonymous said...

Police officers and the public must rely on civilian leaders and command staff for the equipment, training and leadership needed to protect officers and the public.

It has been demonstrated repeatedly for years -- in the streets, in courtrooms, and, it is sad to report, at funerals -- that officers and the public have been poorly served in this respect.

Anonymous said...

I also applaud you in making this point, Infy. While I have no doubt that the officers on hand that day did and used everything in their power to save their fellow officers and our neighbors, I also have no doubt that their managers - especially those manning such posts as public safety director, chief of staff and mayor, were out-gunned not only in the sense of not having adequate equipment in their hands, but not having adequate equipment in between their ears. It is entirely appropriate to conduct a post-mortem to determine whether anything should be done to assure no repeats of this tragedy - the focus should extend from those on the street to those posing as managers at the top. Questions like "why weren't officers informed that there were guns in the house" are just as appropriate as questions like "why are my tax dollars being spent on dozens of uniformed officers performing secretarial roles throughout the department instead of investing that money in a handful of devices reserved only for the unthinkable" - which, unfortunately, is no longer quite so unthinkable.

Infinonymous said...

It probably would be more effective to examine the longstanding, systemic failures (especially with respect to training and to urgent command performance) than to focus on current inhabitants of leadership positions.

The problems preceded every current official. Sad to say, the problems seem likely to survive every current official, too.