• Stephen Warneke

Bennett's Blunder

Updated: Nov 6, 2018



After the Columbine High School massacre, police were heavily criticized for not entering the school right away to try to eliminate the “active shooters.” Since then, law enforcement agencies in America are constantly training in what’s referred to as IARD— or immediate action rapid deployment. There’s an amazing example of how effective this has become, when a team of officers worked their way through a Las Vegas Casino on August 26th of this year looking for a reported active shooter.

As one who is trained in IARD, I can say with certainty that an active shooter call is highest on the list as the most stressful call possible for modern day law enforcement. These situations are complete chaos. There are usually large groups of people utterly panicked, scattering, running and screaming. Officers must enter with typically little to no information. What little information about the number and description of suspects that IS available is usually very broad and often inaccurate. It is common to have completely different suspect descriptions on calls where lots of people are reporting the same incident to 9-1-1. I remember calls where the suspect was reported to be a younger black female, or an older white male. Bottom line for law enforcement is to be on the lookout for ANYONE who looks like they could be a threat.

Enter Michael Bennett who was present at a Las Vegas casino during the report of an active shooter. The Seattle Seahawk in his September 8th statement entitled “Equality” alleged he was detained by police “for nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He also accused the officers of excessive force that was “unbearable” and threatening to blow his head off.

Check out the video and you can see out of all the people in the casino (which included other African Americans, none of who were detained) a crouched Michael Bennett running and hiding behind a row of slot machines. Although it very well could be that he was running to take cover from what he believed to be an active shooter, it looks suspicious enough to investigate further. It also looks suspicious because this action stood out; other people were running away or lying on the ground. Later in another video view, you can also see the handcuffing of Bennett that clearly did not include any excessive force.

In my personal law enforcement experience, there has been many times where we had detained someone at gunpoint who was suspected of involvement in a violent felony and only after a short investigation, determined they were not involved. Despite the fact that I had always explained to those detained why we did what we did and offered an apology, most were not happy with us after an incident like this. That’s certainly understandable. Unfortunately this is just going to happen from time to time, as there is no fix for this.

An explanation and apology were also given to Michael Bennett following his being detained. Perhaps he would not have been detained as long, had he had proper ID on him. I suppose if you play in the NFL and are asked for ID by police officers it’s alright to tell them who you are and then insist they use their cell phones to look you up on the internet.

I can tell you if the tables were reversed, I would take to Twitter to thank the officers for being the only ones running into a casino with the report of an active shooter to save people instead of running away like everyone else. I would be apologizing for being a grown man out on the town in Las Vegas and not having any ID on me. I would take to Twitter not to make false accusations of excessive force and racism compounding this misguided narrative of bigoted police, but to thank the men and women who came to try to save me from what was reported as a life-threatening situation.

I’ll tell you what I see when I watch the videos being released from that night. I see officers of all different races, sexes, shapes and sizes showing their bravery and courage by standing up and entering a potentially chaotic situation to save people they had never even met. I also see a professional athlete who is in-shape, muscular and strong not trying to help others or save anyone. Instead, he’s cowered over, running to save only himself to hide and wait for the very officers he’s lying about to come save him.

*Steve Warneke is a retired sergeant and author of From Boy To Blue. You can find his book, podcasts, and articles at www.SteveWarneke.com.