Sunday, October 31, 2010


Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history will make those mistakes again. What is the worst thing that ever happened at your agency? We had an officer killed in a motorcycle crash during World War Two. That's the only on duty death we ever had of an officer. We have had an officer involved in a shootout with a bank robber, and he killed the robber. We had two officers involved in a suicide by cop shooting. The suspect had a toy gun and behaved in a threatening manner towards the officers and they were forced to shoot him due to the apparent threat to their lives.

We still have motor officers and we all drive cars and so any one of us could be involved in a fatal traffic collision. Our motors now have crash bars, and wear big helmets, unlike 64 years ago. I constantly urge my officers to wear their seat belts. Dealing with a bank robber is a bit easier now, we train more at the range and in more realistic shooting scenarios than we did before and we field patrol rifles in all the units.

Suicide by cop is a problem any one of us could face. Police are by the nature of being police, predictable. You cannot shoot someone unless they are a threat to someones life. If a suspect feigns being a threat, in a convincing manner then we really have no choice but to shoot him. With the numbers of officers who are killed and wounded every year, we cannot not shoot, we are risking too much. Then we are faced later not with the physical threat, but the legal and emotional threat to our well being. A good agency and a good police union will stand behind the officer involved and let him know that he did the right thing. The officer has to know in his heart that it is the nature of police work that we must be predictable in our use of force. If the suspect does "this" then we will almost certainly have to shoot him. All officers must know this both intellectually and emotionally in order to survive a suicide by cop shooting; that's what the SGT Says.


Bob G. said...

This is always a sticky situation...and it's sad to see that the world has changed in such a way as to make this too commonplace an occurence.

No department should ever to have to go through this, and no officer should come to a point in life that makes no other alternative a viable one.
When it comes to civvies, less-than lethal needs to be deployed ASAP to get the person the help THEY need.
Sadly, the L-T-L alternatives are not always "at-hand" and at the ready.

Good post.

Stay safe.

Bunkermeister said...

Mental preparation of yourself, your family is one of the best ways to be ready if and when the worst happens.