Yup, let’s jump right in. For this episode, everything will refer to fatal officer involved shootings.
All too many people and most of the media are acting as judge and jury, working to deepen our national divide for their benefit. Where are the people, where are the media, who seek the truth, believe in the basic rules of jurisprudence, including due process, and are willing to put the pursuit of truth over personal, party and identity group agendas?
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
There is a lot of appropriate attention being paid to the people who have been shot, as well as their families. There is shock, grieving, anger, a powerful sense of loss, and many more emotions in every shooting. The well known five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, clearly start with denial and anger.
I am guessing that the stages of grief are the same whether someone is shot in a gang war, or shot by law enforcement. I have to guess because gang war killings, though they dramatically exceed officer involved killings, are ignored by the national press. Is that because no one would care, because no one would buy a paper, watch a TV show or listen to a talk show where dealing with individual gang killings was the topic? Or because reporting on individual gang war killings would not advance certain agendas?
We do hear a lot, as we should, about the people who were killed, and what the killing did to their families, friends and communities. Let’s talk about the person with the badge, the firearm and the responsibility.
Most officer-involved killings involved clear or potential life-and-death decisions, unfolding in seconds or fractions of a second, all while waves of adrenalin are flowing. Many professions, especially those where vital decisions need to be made instantly, allow for development time with even the most promising professional newcomers. Many of us have heard about the most prized rookie quarterbacks in the NFL that, “The professional game is so much faster, things come at you so quickly. When he adjusts to that, he will be a great QB.” The same thing is true about surgeons with little experience. The patient’s life is often in their hands, and they are broken in gently, little by little, procedure by procedure, so they can get over the almost disabling nervousness would overcome anyone when they first hold a bearing human heart in their hands.
NFL QBs and surgeons get to practice, to find their sea legs, if you will, in very real situations. And that’s how they learn to handle events that would have panicked them earlier in their careers. Cops can train, and well they should. And often. But there is no way they can train in real life and death situations. Only personal experience can help here. Quarterbacks play every week in the season, frequently in situations where the play has collapsed and they are trying to escape without being destroyed by a defensive player who is being paid to do exactly that. The great ones not only escape, but create a big play at the same time. All that in seconds. No time to think. Training and experience are the keys. Surgeons can be in the operating room more than once a week, learning as they are allowed to do more and more with the anesthetized patients lying on the table in front of them.
Most cops will never fire their weapons, and a majority will never even draw them in anger. Yet we expect that somehow they will be able to handle themselves so perfectly that their actions will survive both leisurely and detailed 20-20 hindsight, and the wild ignorance on the part of those indulging in the hindsight analysis. We expect them to be able to process volumes of information, sort it all out, decide on the best plan then act on it. Often in the blink of an eye, with 2-3 seconds to think and act being a luxury. And get it all perfectly correct.
Pause for a question. You have a handgun at hand when an intruder breaks into your home, crashing into the front door, knocking it off its hinges and frightening your family as he bursts into your home. Weapon in hand, you see the intruder 20 feet away, moving toward you. You yell “Stop!”, but he continues on. Do you shoot him in the leg? Try to “wing him” as some suggest? No, you aim for “center of mass.” The idea is to stop the intruder by shooting him. And you aim for the biggest, easiest to hit target. Right in the chest. More than once. That’s exactly the right thing to do, as any qualified home defense instructor would tell you. And even center of mass is amazingly hard to hit when you are amped up dealing with all of the events crashing around you at the same time.
Instead of dissecting what an officer might have done had he been able to think things through, let’s ask different questions. What was the officer’s intent? Discovering and analysing intent is a key element in any crime, and it must be here. Was the officer trying to do the right thing, uninfluenced by anything but the events at hand? On the other hand, was the officer, the cop, clearly acting badly because of deep seated prejudices? The answers here make all the difference. These are the questions we should be asking, not how things would have gone down if the shooter had been able to freeze time, and come up with and execute the perfect plan.
We seem to have grasped, and accepted, the fog of war phrase, forgiving imperfections on the battlefield. Our streets can also be battlefields, and those who automatically either blame or excuse law enforcement officers, are a key part of the problem.
Where do you stand?
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
- Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
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Links and References
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Remember: Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.
Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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