Another Shooting — More Questions

I have seen far too many of the above incidents and, after my years as a street cop, trainer, detective and police chief, I walk away after viewing them with the same feeling — What in the heck are we doing, why did this have to end this way?

The rapidity to the use of deadly force rather than evade or engage is what stands out for me. Why deadly force here? The mission of police should be conflict resolution and peacekeeping. And this may require a police officer to put his or her body into the event. The officer may be injured in that event in order to achieve that mission and fulfill that role.

Years ago, I remember discussing the danger of us being disarmed in a physical engagement, so we got the industry to develop more secure holsters. More recently, this discussion focused (then faded) on technological development – “smart guns.” I believe the quickness to resort to deadly force (“I fear, therefore…”) needs to be examined and fixed.

To do this will involve much “gnashing of teeth and rending of garments” and will cause us to examine selection, training, leadership, mission, officer-care, as well as the control of firearms.

If I was to explain what is going on nationally I would use the word “attitude.” It is an attitude, pervasive in many police departments, which places police before citizens and denies the police role of being a guardian/protector in the community as well as the selfless exercise of servanthood. It’s going to take a very long time and much effort to turn this around.

For starters, we as a nation, are far below the EU standardof “absolute necessity” in police use of deadly force. Unless the current low standard of Graham v. Connoris resolved, trust of police (which negatively impacts their overall effectiveness) will continue to be eroded and their effectiveness undermined. In the meantime, questionable deaths at the hands of our nation’s police will continue unabated.

This is a problem in need of solution. How will we begin to unravel it?

(An additional note: Why was the injured man not immediately placed in a police vehicle and transported to a nearby trauma center? My understanding is that some departments are doing this on advice of trauma physicians. For example, Philadelphia has been doing “scoop and runs” of shooting victims to a trauma center for decades. If the victim was a police officer I can assure you that the officer would have been immediately “scooped up” and transported to the nearest trauma center — and well before any ambulance arrived. I suggest this lack of observable care as officers stand around the body of a shooting victim is one of the reasons we have a “Black Lives Matter” movement.)