Posted tagged ‘Police Shootings’

What’s Wrong With This Picture

September 14, 2018

The other night, a police officer who had just gone off duty, went to the wrong floor of her apartment building to a room directly below her room.  What happened next is still unclear, like was the door ajar or did she pound on the door until the apartment real owner opened the door.  In any case, the off duty officer than proceeded to pump some lead into the apartment’s occupant.  You can guess the rest.  The apartment owner’s funeral is this weekend.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So maybe the investigation will uncover some past relationships between the officer and the victim or maybe the officer had stopped for some brews before heading home.  But can anyone say whatever the provocation was, the officer’s actions was a wise use of police power?

It seems that few weeks pass without some senseless shooting.  But the most senseless are the ones involving fellow citizens who job is to uphold the law and protect the rest of us and an unarmed victim.  No place in law enforcement is their expectation that police officers are suppose to make the law, conduct an on the spot trial, and serve up justice as they see it.

Our military sees a broad cross section of young Americans.  These young people are issued a weapon and are given training on how to use them.  The military, however, also has procedures and supervision that control or regulated how the service members use weapons. Can you imagine a National Guard solder opening fire on by-standers when on duty during an emergency call up?  Can you imagine a jet or helicopter pilot bombing or strafing civilians?  This restricted behavior is not an accident.  It results from leadership, training, and procedures.

The are about 1 million law enforcement officers spread out among 18,000 separate agencies in the US.  This number comprises local, county, city, and state police organizations each with a separate chain of command.  What unites them is the issuance of hand guns. 

Remember when the policeman you saw was just directing traffic or helping children cross the street?

To be sure, the days of Mayberry and Andy Griffith have been supplanted by drug runners, armed gangs, and from time to time, one off terrorists.  Complicating this picture more is that there are more people with mental illness on the streets and predicting their behavior is orders of magnitude more difficult.  Policing is not just about directing traffic. 

The situation, however, is not hopeless.  Far fewer State Police shoot civilians than do local police departments.  State Police selection and training are different and the chain of command is clearer and more present.  

In the old westerns, the good guy (white hat) usually “winged” the bad guy or shot the gun out of his hand.  More recently it has become fashionable for the good guy to shoot dead the criminal.  Are you surprised there are no depictions of the good guy getting it wrong and shooting an innocent person.

If we are going to arm our law enforcement officers, Americans must insist that there be checks to ensure these police agents are mental balanced and trained to use force only as a last resort.  Regrettably, training today focuses much more on protecting the office by shooting to kill first.

What’s wrong with this picture?