Police Defend Tactics In King Detention

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The Santa Barbara Police Department has defended the show of force employed in the detention of King Schools owners John and Martha King on Aug. 28. Spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey told AVweb in a podcast interview officers went by the book in their initial contact with the Kings, which led to their being handcuffed and put in separate police cars. McCaffrey said they were acting on information from the federal El Paso Intelligence Center and the McKinney, Texas, Police Department that the aircraft was stolen (as we've explained in earlier stories the tail number on the Kings' leased Cessna 172 was a re-issuance of the N-number on a Cessna 150 that was stolen in McKinney eight years ago), noting the call from EPIC carries the same weight as a call from the FBI. They had just 15 minutes to cover the 12 miles to the airport and get in position but McCaffrey said they did double-check to ensure the aircraft in question was, indeed, a Cessna with the tail number they'd received. What followed was a textbook takedown, called a felony stop, used by police forces throughout the U.S. to secure a vehicle and its occupants suspected of a serious crime.

The Kings were ordered at gunpoint to exit the aircraft individually and walk backwards to gun-wielding officers before they were handcuffed and put in the cars. Although much of the criticism directed at the SBPD centers on its use of drawn weapons, McCaffrey said police officers are highly trained in the use of firearms and he's unaware of anyone ever being accidentally shot by a police officer under these circumstances. However, police reality shows are full of examples of what can happen if the police fail to control a situation early and can result in dangerous foot and vehicle chases. He said if he'd been there, he'd have handled it the same way.