Alaskan Police Taser 81-Year-Old Minister in Traffic Stop

250px-354th_Fighter_WingMilitary police at the Eielson Air Force Base are facing questions of the need to taser Glen M. Wilcox, an 81-year-old Episcopalian priest. Wilcox was caught allegedly going 11 miles over the speed limit.

The officers with the 354th Security Forces Squadron said that they pulled Wilcox over just after 1 p.m. and that Wilcox refused to accept the documents. They allege he then took off down the highway.

Wilcox insists that he only left when the officers waved at him and “I thought that meant I could go on.”

The officers notified the Alaska State Troopers and treated the matter as a “high-risk traffic stop” when they stopped Wilcox again. They say that he initially refused to roll down his window, but eventually got out of the car. He was told to put his hands behind his back but Wilcox says that he is unable to physically do that and tried to show them that he could not physically comply.

The officers said that Wilcox used profanity and shifted as they tried to cuff him, but Wilcox insists that they had already thrown him to the ground when they tasered him.

What is interesting is that, while the officers charged him with fourth-degree misdemeanor assault, prosecutors dropped the charge. We discussed today how the Mercury News has found a common use of assault or resisting arrest charges in cases involving questionable use of force, here.

We also saw recently another tasering of a motorist for failing to obey an officer, here.

Wilcox later pleaded guilty to a reduced count of disorderly conduct and a misdemeanor count of failure to stop at the direction of a peace officer.

Notably, other departments are able to handle octogenarians without the use of tasers — even when they pull guns, here.

For the full story, click here.

Kudos to one of our anonymous readers from Barrow, Alaska.

16 thoughts on “Alaskan Police Taser 81-Year-Old Minister in Traffic Stop”

  1. A fence line doesn’t always mark federal jurisdiction. I was once stationed at a base where the U.S. DoD held exclusive jurisdiction on one road that was “off base”. The locals and state cops weren’t allowed on it. If anything happened on that road, we “left the base” by exiting a gate only to enter further military jurisdiction. The road ran adjacent to our fence line and was used to control large commercial trucks that couldn’t fit through the regular vehicle gate…unfortunately the rest of the town started to use the road as their own.

    I used to love hearing “…but I’m a civilian! You can’t do this!”. What they don’t realize is that while they were playing with the radio or making a call from their cell phone they passed a sign that said “Entering U.S. Military Property”.

    Was this some kind of entrapment? No! A sign was posted and multiple “civilian owned” routes existed to get to where the one road led. Still, people loved to speed down that road because it was shorter than going around base and, as mentioned earlier, no civilian police are ever seen on that road.

    I like to compare military law enforcement to being a cop in a foreign country. Military cops have their own laws to enforce, their own procedures, and in many cases their own language. Does that mean we are any less of cops? No.

    Does that mean that you can go into another cop’s beat in a foreign country and say “…but I’m an American! You can’t do this!”

    See where that gets you.

    Probably to a very scary jail where the judges don’t care how long it takes to hear your case.

    The only difference between military police and foreign police (like Canada or Mexico) is that military police at stateside bases, depending on various agreements signed with city, county, state, and federal agencies, may pursue off of an installation in order to maintain visual contact with the violator until the locals can come in to make an arrest.

    Half the time the locals ask us the same questions. “Should you be off base?” To them I say slow your roll, believe it or not, I know my job. Each base is different depending on where they operate, the types of resources on the base, and who happens to be in charge. I was always trained that the officer in the field has the duty to make the split second decision over whether or not to pursue based on the facts, crime, direction of travel (is this guy driving toward a missile silo?), weather, traffic on the road, light conditions.

    Basically, the officer has to decide in .00000002 of a second whether or not a pursuit is authorized, justifiable, and warranted.

    In this case, I don’t care where the highway leads and how many states it connects…if the violation was first observed within the jurisdiction of the military police then local policy may have allowed them to pursue onto a public road…which I imagine to be the case. The news article says that the violation was observed on Richardson Highway. I don’t know the exact jurisdiciton of the highway but remember, jurisdiciton is not always marked by a fence line. Did I mention that in some parts of the country civilian cops and military cops will actually share jurisdiction? Did anybody ever think that it was perhaps the media who got the story wrong? Does the road continue onto the base and is it possible that the car was actually on base bt the road that the driver was on was referred to as a major state highway that simply connected to a base? I don’t know all these answers so I won’t make a comment (like most of you above me) as to who was right and wrong.

    Since those cops were never reprimanded, I assume that they were right, and you (above me) were wrong.

    Lastly, you weren’t there. Don’t be a water cooler quarter back. Not that this has anything to do with it, but I’ve met some very rude, hostile, and violent old people. Did anybody ever think of that? God forbid an eighty something becomes belligerent….if that happened it would mean that everything you knew of the world was wrong.

    Get over it.

    Remember the cop who tased the elementary school student? When the news came out everybody said how terrible it was and how the cop should be fired.

    Then they showed a picture of a 300 pound 5th grader (I’m exaggerating, but she was a big girl) and suddenly the actions of the officer that were a direct result of the actions of the student became more understandable.

    Unless you know exactly what went on at the scene please don’t try to explain the actions that you did not witness.

    Back to the military police issue. If off base pursuits are authorized for one unit of military police in one part of the world then that’s what they will do.

    What makes me the most mad is when people (civilians) don’t understand and don’t see how much b.s. the military police have to put up with just to do our job:

    1–Protect the installation. Nothing ever happens on a military base, you say? Google “Fort Hood Massacre”, “Air Force Murder” and “Navy Spy” and let me know if you still think that.

    2–Deploy every other year or every other six months. Because they need cops overseas too. Who else would protect those installations? Not to mention that recently the military police have been filling the void of police trainers in war torn countries and are helping to rebuild the law enforcement agencies of those countries.

    3–Look forward to a transfer every few years. You wanna know why simple mistakes happen with MPs? Because the base they’re at this year doesn’t do things they way they did last year at their last base. And that base was different from Iraq which was way different from Korea. Basic training? Forget about it, that hasn’t been relevant since graduation day.

    4–Try having rank pulled on you at least once a week. That’s a great way to boost self esteem. Having to listen to some full bird tell me why I’m an idiot for not letting him perform (his words now…) “what is commonly referred to as a ‘California stop’. Why don’t you try doing your job when the very chain of command meant to protect you and support you allows an entire base populace to walk all over you just because you decided to write a ticket that day.

    5–Try having to explain to a civilian that if they don’t accept the ticket the federal magistrate has the option of generating a bench warrant for their arrest. Yes…I know that you’re a civilian…that’s why I said “federal magistrate”, not “courts martial”. Idiot.

    6–Remember Viet Nam? Because my flak vest and helmet sure do. Half the gear the government buys is issued as hand me downs so that the other half of the gear, sitting in a warehouse, doesn’t get dirty. ??????????????????????????????????
    The local cop cars were always nicer but that was usually because they had a budget to work with. Think of it this way, the money goes from congress, to the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the military branches, to the bases, to the units, and maybe to the MPs. Where does it go in a city or county? The schools, libraries, utilities, and cops. No wonder it’s so easy to get funding…those are all programs that people want! Not with us…our money gets tied up to fight foreign wars that half of the people paying our salaries don’t agree with.

    7–How about annual physical training requirements? Just kidding, they are a joke, not stressful at all, and I do see the good that they do. Civilian agencies should really think about adopting some sort of personal responsibility policy. No wonder they need the nicest cars, because their cops (most of the old ones anyway) run the slowest. I will give it to my chain of command on this note…no matter how many days of mine they ruined, they always managed to stay in tip top shape and very often out ran the young bucks on our p.t. tests. That, my civilian counterparts, is called leading by example.

    8–The great benefits we get as military members? Run a search of military benefits over the years. They aren’t getting better. Slowly but surely more and more money is coming out of the pockets of the vets.

    9–Retirement at 20 years? Chances are that at the end of those 20 years I’ve spent 10 years in the desert and another five in a foreign country. The constant moving, climate change, and horrible air quality of several of the countries we visit begins to take a toll on our bodies and we end up feeling like we’re retiring at 55 anyway. People tell me, “You could retire at 38! You’d still be young! Plenty of time to start another career!” Who the hell wants to start another career at the age of 38? And why? I thought that retirement plan was top notch?

    Everybody thinks that just because a person is a police officer that their responsibilities remain the same. Not so. Different jurisdictions will require more or less of their cops. Unfortunately, the military requires more.

    Most people seem to forget what a police officer’s job really is. A cop’s job (in regards to suspected violators) is to CHARGE people with crime. This basically means assign them a fine or a court date. The judge or jury determines whether or not a crime has been committed. A cop does not punish with pain, they gain compliance. Once compliance is met, the pain can stop. The taser can be put away and the o.c. can be reholstered. Only the minimum amount of force is ever used. Do you want to know how I know that the cops in the story above used the minimum amount of force? The tasered old man was able to tell his story wasn’t he? Think before you write what you say…whoever started this page. The cops didn’t tase the guy for speeding 11 miles over the speed limit…they tased him as a way to gain compliance. Do you want to know what happened when the man complied? The tasing stopped.

    So next time you wonder if the cop behind you has any jurisdiction over you, believe me when I tell you that the whole process will be much faster and painless if you just assume that he does rather than not. At least you won’t get tased and you can have the whole misunderstanding taken care of in court.

    If, however, you decide to ignore my advice, and assume that no man could ever have jurisdiction over you, then don’t whine when the taser prong gets ripped from your flesh.

  2. Follow up from Air Force Times:

    How many airmen does it take to arrest an 81-year-old preacher?

    Four, apparently — plus a Taser.

    Airmen from the 354th Security Forces Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, used a Taser on an elderly man on Oct. 29 after the man allegedly resisted arrest and assaulted one of the airmen during a routine traffic stop…


    “The [airmen] involved … responded with a minimum use of force required to apprehend the subject after he resisted arrest and assaulted an officer,” Stewart said. “According to the Air Force’s use-of-force manual, Tasers may be utilized when the subject is actively resisting or is noncompliant and demonstrating willingness and the ability to harm themselves or others.”
    The airmen will not be disciplined, he said

  3. This elderly man was stopped on the Richardson Highway which is a public right of way. This is a major highway in the Alaska interior which eventualy connects to the Alcan Highway that goes from Alaska to the lower 48 states. I have lived here in the Alaska interior all of my 54 years and have literally driven the Richardson Highway thousands of times. I have not once seen a military police officer pull anyone over. I believe this military police officer was way beyond his assigned duties and custimary and accepted enforcement practices. The Army and the Air Force have a very good relationship with us and I would hope this is resolved. Such a terrable event to happen to one of our elderly citizens.

  4. ‘SometimesY’ wrote: “Any officer who is authorized to use a Taser must first complete a certification process in which he/she is actually Tasered. The Taser isn’t a torture device, it’s a way to get a combative subject to comply. A way to keep the individual and officers from getting hurt.’

    Let’s go through the errors one by one.

    1) The so-called certification process is more-or-less controlled by Taser International and amounts to brainwashing. The trainees are taught the worldview of Taser International. They are not told (for example) that the American Medical Association has concluded that tasers can occasionally kill, and I quote: “directly or indirectly”.

    2) The painful tasering to the trainee’s back, always the back, is effectively an indoctrination ritual of the sort used by cults. Invoke some serious pain, and you can instill insane loyalty.

    3) The taser training is always fired into the back, never the chest. Taser International continues to claim the tasers are cardiac safe, but now also recommend that police “avoid the chest”.

    4) The taser training cartridges have darts that are about 40% shorter than normal. And many sessions use clip-on wires. Both would tend to keep the taser current more towards the surface than the full-length darts.

    5) Taser so-called NMI only occurs well past and beyond pain. You have to instill extreme pain, calculated to be about 2000 times “intense” pain to reach NMI. To discount the pain because the taser goes past it is insane logic.

    6) If the taser is used for pain compliance, by an officer, for purposes of coercion (‘force’ as the verb), then it seems to meet the exact definition of “torture” as legally defined. If you’re not sure I’m right, then ask yourself if the police could use the glowing end of a lit cigarette to achieve the same purpose (minus the risk of sudden cardiac death). If using a glowing cigarette to force (verb) compliance is not acceptable, then why dressing up a torture device as high-tech makes it acceptable?

    7) Getting hurt. The issue isn’t “getting hurt.” There are more important issue to address before getting down to injuries. Let’s start with DEATH. Use of tasers carries risks, and those risks include risk of death. Other forms of force may have slightly higher injury rates, but much lower death rates. And even the injury rates depends on excluding taser dart injuries. Why not exclude baton-related injuries as well, by the same logic as excluding the burnt flesh and dart holes left by tasers?

    The above 7-point response is just to one of your paragraphs. Geesh. My blog has about 1400 posts which systematically shred all pro-taser arguments.


  5. AY,
    I am with you on this one. There is no way that these officers could not have controlled this octogenarian without resorting to tazing him. The Tazer has become a toy for police to use and abuse at their whim.

  6. This explains it all, the officers had him under the radar and probably were waiting for him. Nah this was 11 years ago.

    FAIRBANKS — An 81-year-old man was Tasered during a traffic stop last week.

    It is the second time since 1998 that police have had to make a show of force during a traffic stop to arrest Glen M. Wilcox, a Fairbanks-based Episcopalian priest and real estate agent.


    What I am concern with is the DOD turning to a civilian corp of police. Is this mot what the founder of the constitution warned of us? Is this not what we fought the Russians over?

  7. I don’t see this as an exceptional act by a rogue cop, but just one example of the far too few of these abuses we hear about. I don’t often share this viewpoint because it’s not very popular, but I’m of the opinion that the number and/or percentage of police who have a shred of concern for the public is extremely small. Most every cop I’ve ever met in my 60 years are all ego, fed by a steady supply of testosterone and being more than willing to bully and inflict pain.

  8. The stop was made on a part of the Richardson Hwy that is the jurisdiction of the military base.

    Any officer who is authorized to use a Taser must first complete a certification process in which he/she is actually Tasered. The Taser isn’t a torture device, it’s a way to get a combative subject to comply. A way to keep the individual and officers from getting hurt.

    I’ve read several articles that focus on the fact that the man was 81, a minister, etc. Yes, the man was 81, but he actively resisting arrest. Alaska has loose gun laws, how were the officers to know whether he carried a weapon or not? Yes, he’s a minister. Ministers are not above the law. Ministers still have scandals that rock the news on a regular basis for things such as fraud and abuse. I think you have to take this into perspective and realize that no matter who he was, the law is the law. If you flee an officer, you’ll be arrested, even for going 11 over the speed limit.

    Also, he was offered medical assistance after the arrest and refused it. Guess his arm didn’t hurt that bad.

  9. Police always charge anyone they beat with assault…

    Tasers are torture devices and constitute cruel and unusual punishment…

    So far I know of 129 deaths from Taser use by police…I’m sure there’s been more…

    Tasers are prone to abuse, and all too often in the hands of sadists…

  10. Obviously this man is a highly dangerous criminal. I mean to say, 11mph over the limit – that’s double figures y’know. Can’t be taking any chances with these desperate psychopaths. These brave officers should be given awards for going in without tank and air support.

  11. Anonymously Yours,

    The OLC opinion to which you have linked does not address the issue presented here. The OLC opinion only addresses the question of which entity — DoD or GSA — has authority to enforce traffic laws on Federal military installations. It does not address the question of whether DoD has authority to enforce traffic laws on the territory surrounding a Federal military installation.

    On this issue, and the issue relevant here, military authorities are generally authorized to conduct off-installation operations “for the purpose of enforcing regulations and orders pertaining to persons subject to their jurisdiction.” Army Regulation 190-24 para. 3-2(b). Generally, this means that MPs — in coordination with the local LEOs — can conduct traffic stops in the territory surrounding a Federal military installation. Where the person stopped turns out to be a servicemember, the MPs exercise jurisdiction. Where the person turns out to be a civilian, the MPs detain the individual and call in the local LEOs.

    This is not to vindicate the conduct of the MPs here; while it is not clear from the article whether the MPs were acting within their jurisdiction, it does seem clear that there was no need for the level of force they used. This is simply to point out the inaccuracy of the claim that the MPs were inherently beyond their jurisdiction to act here.

  12. This is interesting that the MP is giving tickets off premises at Eielson Air Force Base. Something is truly amiss, more like F***ed Up. The only authority that the MP’s have over civilians is for acts committed ON BASE. They can have authority over civilians off base for offenses committed against persons who are in the military.

    Therefore the minister would have to be tried in Federal Court for the Traffic Stop to be legal for an offense that occurred on base. This does not include Highways that surround the base perimeter. I am not saying that they cannot be stopped and detained by the MPs and wait until a trooper arrives to then issue the civil infraction based upon the superior word of some “LEO” wanta be.

    This is the lead Memo unless it has been changed and applies to all military installations unless excepted out .


    Military Police have the authority to issue citations, enforceable in federal court, to motorists who violate traffic laws on Bolling Air Force Base.

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