Working in law enforcement is a very hard job. It’s a job where every day there is a potential of not surviving the shift. Game wardens routinely go to their job knowing that most people they encounter are not only armed but in the woods with the intent to kill something.
The difference is that hunters are mainly law-abiding citizens who respect the game warden, where the LEO doesn’t know who is or isn’t armed and who has the intent to use deadly force against people and have no respect for the LEO.
Although that is groundwork for my comments, it doesn’t answer the question…
My last post addressed a situation that has been in the news concerning a ‘sovereign citizen’ who, during what should have been a routine traffic stop, was shot and killed by the LEO’s that responded to the incident.
On the surface it seems like this one more time a peaceful citizen was gunned down by aggressive LEO’s.
Let’s look at some perspectives.
First, there is the perspective that the average LEO is a hunter in society looking for a person to shoot. The first thought that comes to mind is the number of LEO’s who have an entire career without ever firing their gun outside of the range. A quick search reveals a number between 75-90% have never fired their gun on patrol.
Second, as a firearms instructor I am very concerned about teaching my students the law (as best a non-lawyer can) so they can follow it. What most people don’t understand is that the LEO use of force is just as restricted. They cannot go around pointing their gun at people unless they fear for their life or the life of someone they have a duty to protect.
Another perspective is that the LEO community is comprised of people. As people, they have the potential of having the type of person who has very low esteem and a need to prove their power. Most LEO agencies call these “bad cops” and do their best to weed them out. First in the various academies where they are evaluated, tested, and evaluated again. Some slip through. Some become jaded while working the streets. I firmly believe these “bad cops” are a small portion of the LEO force.
Finally, we must consider reaction time. In concealed carry training you should have received training on recognizing a threat and reacting to it. A LEO in the community has a body camera, protective vest, and several other tools at the ready. In the back of their mind each day they start a shift is “am I going to make it home tonight,” which is a consideration in every encounter. Unfortunately, the answer to that question must be made in two or three seconds. If they hesitate, they may be killed by the gun the person they have asked to show hands has in the hand they don’t want to show. If that person has an object that may be a deadly weapon (gun, knife, pipe, etc.) it is very possible that weapon can be used on the LEO who hesitates. Unfortunately, some of these incidents do not involve a deadly weapon but still result in the death of the person.
When a LEO does cause the death of another person, they are taken off the street and put on administrative leave. While they are on leave their shooting incident is investigated. Each, and every, time. None are just considered a ‘good shoot’ and garner a pat on the back for a job well done.
If it is determined that they acted withing the standard procedures and in defense of life, they are returned to duty. If it isn’t, they can and will be prosecuted. This is a secondary thought following coming home each night. Yes, the job of a LEO is not easy.
The rare LEO that abuses the position of trust tarnishes the whole force. Those that are operating honorably are more motivated than the average citizen to get the ‘bad cops’ off the street.
So, the initial question I posed was not only blatantly wrong, but it is also loaded to paint a picture of vigilante LEO’s running amuck. Our media does little to help dispel this picture when the news stories are slanted against the LEO in most cases. TV programs that depict LEO’s that have little to no regard for due process are the ‘hero’s’ in the program may be entertaining but they are poisoning the minds of those who don’t recognize what they are doing. There are some good shows, but the majority (in my opinion) are not flattering to LEO’s.