Officer Survival, Really?

Recently a former police commander and criminal justice commander sent an email to Kevin Davis expressing her thoughts on today's police officers and training. She what she had to say and how Davis responds.

Elizabeth Croft published a study a number of years ago (1987) that simply stated, "Cops don't use too much force; they don't use enough force soon enough." Numerous studies have found that police use force in less than 2% of all contacts and describe police use of force as infrequent. An I.A.C.P. study published in 2000 states that, police force was used 3.5 times per every 10,000 calls for service. Funny, our professor/former commander would have us believe that officers can't resolve a crisis without violence.

I think therefore I am a cop...

A thinker yes; I want a thinker but one who can hit like a ton of bricks and shoot like Annie Oakley. Our esteemed editor Frank Borelli stated it well with the priorities of law enforcement:

We are warriors FIRST, diplomats SECOND and servants a distant THIRD.

A thinker without a good right-cross is worthless on the street. The term Warrior-Scholar is exactly what I mean. You simply cannot talk yourself out of every need for the application of force. Further, you should not be talking, i.e. two way conversation, when a suspect is actively resisting or presents a threat. You should be ordering or giving commands to the suspect to surrender or giving verbal direction as to what you want the suspect to do. It is not, Sir, I've developed enough probable cause to arrest you so, what do you think, can you lie down on the ground for me please? It's simply, Get on the ground! We continue to verbalize because it gives the suspect a direction he can follow to avoid further force. It also helps us write our report so all those witnesses can later state, The officer told him to 'Stop Resisting and get on the ground!'

But we're not talking about some hairy knuckled Neanderthal brute who would rather smack you upside the head than talk to you. This animal simply doesn't exist. In this day of dashboard and cell phone cameras, civilian review boards and unrestrained civil litigation you can't operate like that or if you do you're quickly identified and fired (or indicted). As I write this I am working on three cases as an expert witness. Two, though the officers did nothing wrong, they find themselves charged with crimes and a third case where officers are sued because a minimal use of force resulted in injury. Never before has such scrutiny existed.

Cops have got to think at all times. The implication that an aggressive officer doesn't think is insulting. We think about the potential and developing threats, we communicate to ascertain the circumstances and nature of the call, we think about the reasonable suspicion and probable cause as it develops and we think through options of controlling a resisting suspect, on and on. If we ever stop thinking we're through.

That Supervision and Academia Disconnect

A short memory for the street or no street experience whatsoever (academia) leads to some stupid statements, decisions or policy passed down the chain of command or pronouncements from on-high (when dealing with academia). Further too many supervisors and academics enter into their roles with preformed opinions, i.e. Neanderthal brutes or idiot patrolman... and proceed forward ignorant of the facts. There is often this disconnect between what it's really like on the street or what our officers really do and their image as perceived or portrayed by higher-ups or criminal justice professors.


And finally I'll say that academia and certain segments of the police culture can paint all the pretty pictures they want about community policing, crisis intervention and verbalization skills but at the core, at the center of law enforcement is the enforcement part - the hands-on, you're under arrest, application of force part, sometimes including gunfire. When it comes to that there are no do-overs. Your skills had better be there, sharp and ready to go. Lack of competence leads to lack of confidence which frequently results in an injured officer based on too little use of force or excessive use of force. Either way, focusing on tactics and use of force training improves officer safety and reduces violence.

No, Professor, the best and brightest - my Brothers and Sisters in Blue - are out there doing this often thankless job. They need your support rather than your condemnation. You've apparently forgotten the amazing job that they do and the quality individuals they are. I have not.

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