With all the one-sided anti-police news reporting over the last few years, it is time to remind our citizens that the police of this country are the good guys. No, really, we are. The men and women who put on a star and uniform then leave their homes to protect you and your family are the good guys.
The guy on the corner who waits until you leave for work then kicks in your front door and burglarizes your home to pay for his drug habit is the bad guy. The guy who sells him the drugs is the bad guy. The guy who buys the stolen property is the bad guy. The people with the stars, who have sworn to serve and protect you, are the good guys.
The gangbanger with the pistol who robs the corner convenience store you stop at on your way home from the train each night is the bad guy.
And yes, when you drive over the limit and get pulled over for a ticket, you are the bad guy. The officer who stops you and writes you a citation is the good guy. Believe me, he would much rather be out there catching that convenience store robber, or residential burglar, or gangbanger selling dope on the corner. It’s a lot more fun. However, if we slow you down you might not get killed in an accident.
Traffic stops are probably the only interaction you have with the police. Those often result in a fine. Even though we don’t want to be the bad guy we are to you that day.
Now add the next media story about how the sixth leading cause of young men in the US is to be killed by police. Forget the first five reasons and how minuscule the numbers are at number six. The media makes it sound like we race out of roll call each tour and just start shooting young people.
If you read the entire article that point was made however no one reads the entire article. Headlines and first paragraph are the most people tend to read.
Now let’s consider police shootings. Police officers are lawfully allowed to use deadly force under very restricted circumstances. They vary by state and are usually further restricted by departments. When I came on the job in 1983 a police officer could lawfully shoot a fleeing felon. If a burglar was running down the alley away from you and was no physical threat, you could shoot him in the back to stop him. In most departments now an officer can only shoot when his life or another’s life is in immediate jeopardy.
So plain and simple if someone is about to kill me or another person, I can then lawfully shoot them. That is all the requirements needed. There doesn’t need to be a weapon in the bad guy’s hand. If a bad guy is beating someone to death or at least enough so that you fear for their life, then shoot him if you must.
Let’s now consider the facts. Police departments have exams to gain employment. Part of those include psychological exams to determine if the police candidate is stable enough to make the call of shoot no shoot. It weeds out most of the psychopaths. They also go through months of training both classroom and practical. Most departments then take this officer and assign them to a Field Training Officer (FTO) or someone similar for several months.
While most officers wonder how they will react in a shooting situation I doubt there are any that wake-up and say to themselves, “I’m going to go shoot a dirtbag today.” More likely they wake up and say to themselves, “Lord, don’t let me f*** up today.”
With instant news reporting, you hear of many more police shootings today. If you are paying attention, you also hear of so many more police officers shot.
Now the people who shoot the police officers are usually bad guys. They broke the law by shooting the officer. The only exception would be some tragic accident. The police officers who shoot a young person are most often lawfully shooting someone in compliance with their state and local laws as well as their department restrictions. Yes, there are accidental shootings and I know the officers will take back those bullets if they could. There might be some completely unlawful shootings. The percentage of unlawful shootings is minuscule.
I’m not an actuary, so I can’t tell you where unjustified police shootings now fall on the list, but it is far down from justified shootings. Unless you go around putting police officers or others in danger by pointing guns at them or attacking them physically your chances of the police shooting you are slim.
Now to all you officers, it was clear you are all aware of this. You live the life and know what it means to pin on that star and holster that gun. You are the choir and I’m not preaching to you. I am preaching to your friends and family. Forward this article to that cousin who is confused. Share this article on your Facebook timeline. Print out a copy and send it to someone who doesn’t understand. You are the good guy, not the bad guy.
Stay safe everyone, run low and zigzag.
– Robert Weisskopf (retired LT. CPD)
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(Feature image: Flickr)
Robert Weisskopf grew up in Chicago. The son of a 33-year veteran Chicago Police Lieutenant. Bob was sworn in on February 14, 1983. Over the next thirty years he rose from Police Officer to Sergeant, to Lieutenant. He’s worked almost every job there is in Patrol and as a Sergeant, he was detailed to H.U.D. working undercover narcotics enforcement in public housing. As a Lieutenant he was the commanding officer of the CPD Alternate Response section commanding up to 300 officers. He became a member of the Lieutenants Union. He served as its president for six years, negotiating two contracts. He also served as Vice President of the Illinois Police Benevolent Protective Association. He’s a divorced father with three sons, Bob, Jim, and Patrick. He is the author of a series of sci-fi novels and a cookbook for single fathers. You can find links to his work and more at www.bobweisskopf.com.