What Hasn't Changed Since Waco

Written by Federal Employee Defense Services on .

Everyone is talking about the WACO miniseries – so, we will too –from a current threat and technology perspective.

Think about a mission involving any modern terrorist or extremist group, a drug or sex trafficking ring, a dangerous sovereign citizen group, or any other number of groups that you could be investigating.  After months of evaluating and examining evidence, today is the day.

Five seconds into the encounter with the subject or subjects, you are faced with a deadly threat, you make a decision.

It was a fatal decision.

But…it was a decision rooted in your training and based on the information at hand. 

Three hours later, your actions are televised – nationally.  A private citizen with a cell phone taped the incident from across the street. The news anchor tells her viewers that the video has graphic content and may be disturbing to some viewers. But the video doesn’t tell the whole story.  It has been decontextualized into a small snippet – and not from a law enforcement perspective. Within an hour, the politicians, special interest groups, and possibly even your agency, are demanding an explanation, an investigation, and accountability. 

When an action turns out to be mistaken or it just turns out badly – for any number of reasons – your exemplary record will not protect you from the scope of federal investigations and personal capacity lawsuits you could face.  Your decisions will be scrutinized with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.  You will most likely be subjected to lengthy, public, high profile investigations and trials.  And you will feel on trial yourself as defense attorneys try to discredit you. Your credibility, integrity, and career could be on the line.

As the provider of professional liability insurance to federal law enforcement personnel, Federal Employee Defense Services knows all too well the dangers that you face. Twenty-five years after Waco, what hasn’t changed, is the fact that law enforcement actions, often made by a split-second judgment by an officer who believed he or she was facing an imminent threat, will be scrutinized from a 20/20 hindsight perspective, by people who don’t understand the tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving circumstances that no amount of knowledge, education, history or training can change. 

FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal law enforcement community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us on the web at fedsprotection.com and choose the position or agency that best describes your job and professional responsibilities.


 Image: By Federal Bureau of investigation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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