Wish Your Problems Away

The police have come under repeated scrutiny concerning their use of force and the perception that it is not only too widely used, but that it unfairly targets minorities. Despite the fact that only a small fraction of use of force incidents are found to be questionable, many jurisdictions have changed their own use of force policies and training – probably to avoid costly lawsuits. However, some of these alternatives may be more costly than the lawsuits they aim to prevent because, rather than being paid in dollars and cents, the bill will be paid in officers’ lives.

There is no doubt that law enforcement use of force situations have drawn an increasing amount of negative attention in recent months and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, some of these incidents have painted law enforcement in a poor light and sometimes this has been due to improper action by our own members. It should also come as no surprise that many departments have reviewed their use of force policies and that some have made changes designed to avoid being the next ones in the spotlight. While review of policies and procedures is often a good thing, leading to positive improvement we are now seeing department administrators bending to political will and attempting to inject “warm and fuzzy” where “strong and disciplined” needed to be. Case in point: NYPD’s recent “threat meditation” training.

In February of 2015, the NYPD began requiring all officers to attend use of force update training and front and center was a preferred method of dealing with hostile individuals – take a step back, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Honest, this is no late April Fools joke. Administrators, reportedly at the request of the Mayor himself, have decided this is the best way to diffuse a hostile situation. I have no doubt it will work, but not quite the way his honor envisions – the conflict will be over once the officer closes his/her eyes and the perp takes their head off. There is no doubt this training, if followed, will get officers seriously injured or killed.

StandoffHow did we even get to this point where politicians and the public believe it is okay to threaten police and that it is then the officer’s responsibility to back away so nothing bad happens? If I truly knew the answer to that question, I could probably get rich running my own training – but I have some ideas nonetheless.

  1. There is a general lack of respect for others which transcends law enforcement and includes any authority figure.
  2. Along with the lack of respect is a lack of responsibility, more specifically a feeling that there is no responsibility for one’s actions.
  3. Lack of support for law enforcement by elected officials.

It is true that America as a whole has experienced almost two decades of decreased crime, but it is wrong to take that for granted or to believe aggressive policing did not have anything to do with it. Without a strong police force, one which is not afraid to do its job, we will quickly find ourselves at the other end of the crime statistic scale and then who will we blame? It’s already starting on a local level; look at the increased murder rate in Chicago which is famous for throwing officers to the wolves when their actions don’t look good on film or hurt someone’s feelings.

Rules are good, even for those empowered to enforce those rules on others. But if everyone followed the rules, there would be no need for police to begin with. Before making silly requirements such as shutting your eyes and wishing problems away, the powers that be need to remember why police exist – to deal with the bad elements of society who refuse to follow the rules. This means that sometimes law enforcement is forced to confront the dirty, ugly underbelly of our society – something which cannot be done while saying “please” and “thank you” at every request.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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