Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Different tactic

October 5, 2006


To the editor:

The death of Marsha Mace is a terrible tragedy. Marsha was a very upbeat person from a loving family. She was a wonderful mother to her young son, Luke.

People sometimes make bad decisions when they are in a temporary state of depression. This is the second time I have seen a tragic death in Lawrence over a call for help by a concerned mother. I had hoped that after the Gregg Sevier tragedy, the police would have policies that deal with situations like this rather than using "shoot to kill" procedures.

Today's technology provides many nonlethal weapons to avoid this kind of tragedy. SWAT teams in other communities have extensive training in "shoot to disable" techniques that are effective against armed persons who don't deserve to die.

The Lawrence Police Department needs more than one course of action for situations with persons who are otherwise stable but who are facing temporary problems. The solution of deadly force should be reserved for criminals, not for innocent persons who refuse to respond to the police at their door. I am sure many officers would volunteer for training to save the lives of those of us who might temporarily lose control.

Some people have speculated that Marsha wanted to commit "suicide by cop." She may have wanted that in a brief moment of intense anger, but that doesn't mean that the Lawrence Police Department had to give her what she wanted.

Steve Malone,



concernedparent 11 years, 7 months ago

Again, are we really going to do this again? How long before this is old news?

Mr Malone, move on please. Find something else that is bothering you and write in.

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

You shoot at police officers and they respond to neutralize the threat. They did their job in protecting the public. It sucks that a lady had to die but if somebody is shooting at me, the adrenaline would be pumping hard and I doubt anybody in that condition would be able to shoot the arm, leg, or even the gun. This is real life and the officers can't shoot the gun out of people's hands like in the movies. Get off the officers back and console them for having to do that job and make that tough decision to shoot the lady.

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

""shoot to disable" techniques that are effective against armed persons who don't deserve to die."

If you're shooting at others, then you get what you deserve.

blessed3x 11 years, 7 months ago

"The Lawrence Police Department needs more than one course of action for situations with persons who are otherwise stable but who are facing temporary problems. "

So who gets to decide which people are truly unstable and which just haven't taken their prosac today?

classclown 11 years, 7 months ago

"The solution of deadly force should be reserved for criminals, not for innocent persons who refuse to respond to the police at their door."


If I understand correctly, she did respond. With bullets.

Secondly, as odd as it may seem, suicide is a crime.

ControlFreak 11 years, 7 months ago

We can speculate all we want about what Ms. Mace was thinking (just like Steve Malone), but ultimately we have no idea.

This guy is forgetting that she fired at least two bullets toward the homes of innocent people, when the police first arrived.

The police spent four hours trying to get this lady to surrender without further violence. If they were negligent and acting without conscience (as some people suggest) they would not have wasted FOUR HOURS, trying to bring a peaceful solution.

Her response was to come out of her home and fire on the police.

What do people really expect them to do? Sit back and let her keep shooting at people?

Come on Mr. Malone, enter reality, please.

Father_Guido_Sarducci 11 years, 7 months ago

I had a thought go through my mind after I read about this tragic event. Maybe someday technology will evolve to the point where law enforcement will be able to flip a switch on some gizmo or device and in an instant an ear-piercing noise will be made that will make the distraught man or woman with the gun in his or her hand just drop to the ground in pain...clutching his or her ears!

You know, kinda like in them old Star Trek episodes where Capt. Kirk, Spock and Sulu or whoever would be down on some strange planet...they'd be walking around, doing whatever...and all of a sudden some alien would come out from behind a bush, tell the Enterprise crew to drop their weapons...and when the crew didn't....the alien would stare at the crew, an ear piercing noise would come from out of nowhere...and Kirk, Spock, Bones and Sulu would all drop to the ground clutching their heads in pain.

Something like that, you know?

mom_of_three 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes, I think we wish the outcome had been different.
But as stated before, shooting to disable doesn't guarantee that the innocent public won't get hurt.
Does Lawrence police even have a SWAT team?? There are stun guns, which some departments use, which Lawrence doesn't have, but you have to be in close proximity to the victim, and isn't always possible to use it.

imastinker 11 years, 7 months ago

I suppose before police go out on a call they should ask the person if they are a person going through temporary depression or a criminal. By the way - a person who shoots at offices is definitely a criminal. This would have been much more sad if an innocent policeman died.

swampmusic 11 years, 7 months ago

There is not a Police Department in the United States that trains it's Officers to "shoot to wound" or " shoot to kill" . Agencies train the Officer to aim " center of Mass" of the target. Secondly, no police department would ever advocate using less-then-lethal force against a subject armed with lethal force. This was a heartbreaking trajedy for both the Mace family who lost a daughter and a sister, and for the Officer who was forced to defend himself and others. You are grossly uniformed, and incorrect in your assertions. It is horribly unfair for you to arm-chair quarterback.

verity 11 years, 7 months ago

Were the surrounding houses evacuated and if not, why not?

verity 11 years, 7 months ago


Refering to your answer to my post of yesterday---I asked a question. I did not state an opinion. I did not say I hated cops or in any way insinuate that I did or that I had any opinion on the matter. I asked a question. Don't try to twist what I said.

dthroat 11 years, 7 months ago

Smitty (cynthia) I know this is a waste of time, but you have WRONG information and although I know you won't - PLEASE stop spreading rumors as FACT.

But you seem to be good at that ever since Sevier.

Oh well, I have wasted more time than I should have with you.

GOPConservative 11 years, 7 months ago

I notice that some of the same people always respond to this issue with the same lame justifications each time this subject comes up. It almost seems like an organized effort.

Mr. Malone brings up some excellent points. Despite the misinformation by posters above, there are many examples of other communities that have been successful in preventing "suicide by cop," even when the person was armed and was shooting.

Creating a situation where "shoot to kill" is the only choice is not the only approach. Creating even more tension by bringing in dozens of squad cars, swat teams in flack jackets, and turning the situation into a circus is not the only alternative.

No one can argue that when a police officer is put into a situation where it is his life or the life of a suicidal person, he has little choice. The question is how to prevent being put into that kind of situation in the first place.

As has been the case before, the Lawrence Police Department's approach does nothing to calm the situation. It only serves to intensify it.

As Mr. Malone stated, I have also heard from several people who knew Marsha and wished they had been called to assist in the negotiations during the standoff. Certainly, her parents should have been involved.

I remember reading about a small community in Colorado a few years ago where the police used loved ones and friends to talk an armed Hispanic man out of suicide by cop. The man had several guns and had shot several times at the police. Yet, even in that small community, the police were trained in using techniques to defuse a potentially lethal situation.

Mr. Malone is absolutely correct about non-lethal approaches used by other communities. With a quick Google search, I found two other articles where the police were successful in preventing "suicide by cop." I'm know there are many more examples.

Bone777 11 years, 7 months ago

She had brain cancer is what I heard, from a friend of a friend who thought they might have known someone who told them so. That and dealing with bankruptcy, I don't think she was going to see the greener grass.

GOPConservative - I agree they should have used her mother or a close friend to negotiate, but they didn't.

When she initially engaged them with a shot, they had no choice other than to stand by and make a "circus" out of the area.

GOPConservative 11 years, 7 months ago

blue73harley, so what if the articles were from companies that sell products to avoid such tragedies? Are you claiming that these incidents never happened?

Your response begs the obvious question. Why not use these kind of products? Why not use family and friends in the negotiations?

In one incident, the suicidal individual had shot off a gun, just like in Marsha's case, but the outcome was much different (please take note, Bone777).

The point is that Mr. Malone made reference to these kind of alternatives, but hard-hearted folks on this thread made light of this very obvious fact. Personally, I don't think the death of young mother is a laughing matter.

I imagine most of you would change your tune if it were your sister, brother, spouse or good friend was blown away by our poorly-trained and poorly-equipped cops.

Bone777 11 years, 7 months ago

GOPConservative - I read those press releases. Apparently Bullard has saturated the Fire Service with Thermal Imagers and has found a new market. Those wouldn't have helped in this situation. Those are really cool though. If someone walks bare footed on a floor, you can follow their foot prints, in pitch black. Done it and seen it.

The tasers I think would have worked in this case, if the officers would have been through 'Matrix' training. Otherwise, no choice but to throw lead back. It doesn't matter if this was a young mother, a nun, or Charles Manson. The situation called for lethal force.

GOPConservative 11 years, 7 months ago


In other words, the police should not take a chance on using family members because that might result in the person being killed.

(If you took the above statement as as sarcasm, you were correct.)

Suicide prevention experts are in the best position to determine if family or friends would help.

I don't remember reading what the experts from local suicide-prevention agencies recommended during the three-hour standoff.

Surely, the LPD used them. To not utilize local experts trained in evaluating a suicidal person would have been grossly irresponsible.

Even if they utilized these obviously important local resources, the clear fact is that the LPD failed.

The time has come for the LPD to quit stonewalling and start taking some responsibly by looking for better alternatives in dealing with situations like this.

GOPConservative 11 years, 7 months ago


What you said might make sense except I believe you are very misinformed as to what happened.

I never heard or read anyting about the neighbors being the ones who called the police. My understanding is that Marsha's mother was the one who called. Her intention was to ask someone to check on her daughter because of a phone call she had received from Marsha.

I'm sure Marsha's mother expected the person who would contact her daughter would to be someone qualified in dealing with emotionally distressed individuals.

In my opinion, the "intervention" should have been by a qualified professional. The fact that police officers are consistently dispatched in these situations without considering the use of qualified mental health professionals is the problem.

The intervention could start with a phone call, not a direct visit. Certainly, if the professional feels he needs direct contact after the phone call, it might be appropriate for a single police car to be on hand to back up the the trained professional, but the contact should by someone, not in uniform, who is trained in dealing with an emotionally-distressed person, hopefully, a therapist who knows the person and has treated the person in the past.

Whether you and others want to see it or not, there continues to be a problem with the way the police respond to these situations. Until that problem is addressed, we will continue to see this kind of tragedy.

rockmom 11 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of what happened that day or how depressed the lady was, the whole point of the matter is that she was firing a gun outside her home that could have injured an innocent bystander or cop. Now, if that would have happened everyone would be on the officer's back for not doing something soon enough. Now we all know this is a tragedy for her family and we feel for them, but personally I feel for Officer Squire. Do you really think he was trying to kill her? Are you all considering how this has affected his life? If he was wanting to kill people he could have chose the life of a criminal himself. Instead he is trying to protect our community....including those of you that are trying to make him feel like a POS for doing HIS JOB that day. If I were to go outside right now and start shooting a gun....I know my consequences. This officer was serving our community and did a darn good job that day. The last point I would like to touch on is the fact that LJW used his engagement picture to post on the front page right next to her picture. He has a huge smile on his face because his upcoming marriage was a joyous occasion......but the press makes it look like he is happy about the situation that occured a few weeks back. I personally do not think that it is right to use such a happy picture on such an unhappy occasion. Even if LJW has rights to that picture now.....the people putting it in should think about how they would feel.....but that is something people have forgotten to do now days.

KansasKid 11 years, 7 months ago

What if, could have, should have,who did or didnt do what ? This is not going to bring Marsha back.Please let her and this rest. Most of you talk in circles. Im sure we all have something better to do. We miss you Marsha and love you.

november 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree with KansasKid. We can't change the unfortunate outcome of Marsha's death. Placing blame or pointing fingers won't resolve the loss we feel.

It is important to focus on who she was. She was an amazing person. And, I will always value the memories of the life she shared with me and her many, many friends. For those of us whom truly knew and loved her, we know she had a kind heart. Yes, she was experiencing difficulties in her life and I believe she was scared and overwhelmed. I don't think she initially set out to hurt anyone or herself. I think she was seeking help and doing the best she could considering the circumstances. Marsha was a very proud woman. I know it would not have been easy for her to seek help. But, then, like so many others, I am only speculating.

Marsha was terminally ill. I don't think it is fair to suggest she "desired" death. I believe her fear of dying triggered her behavior.

She is gone but not forgotten. May her light shine forever. I hope her family finds solace/resolve in the fact that she is no longer suffering.

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