death by cop

Over the past year we have witnessed the deaths caused by police officers on duty that have led to demonstrations across the country and anguish for many families. The images above are of just some of the victims, and really focus on those of color when there are white victims, too. But this is not just about the emphatic point that “Black Lives Matter” or even the greater/counterpoint that “All Lives Matter”.

Those tenets are indiputable…or should be.

It is also indisputable that some lives lost at the hands of police were of persons who themselves were an active and real threat to the officers or someone else.

That begs the question as to how police officers are trained to deal with situations that have the potential to harm them.

The answer is, not very well.

I have read a number of articles in which even police officials admit that when police violence is a problem for a department, such as most notably in Baltimore recently, training of those officers may have been deficient.

So I was intrigued by this article about police training, specifically about trainees viewing videos in which cops get killed during routine traffic stops. They are shown so that the officers are aware that any stop can turn deadly, especially if they neglect the protocols they are taught.


One training officer states that “98% of the time nothing happens”.

That number is ridiculously wrong.

Look at it this way. Around 34,000,000 speeding tickets are written in the United States every year. And that does not include stops for broken taillights or illegal turns, or ignoring traffic signs, and it does not include all the other possible encounters law enforcement may have that could put them in danger.

Yet, in the 21st century, fewer than 200 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty each year according to the “Officer Down Memorial Page” which tracks such deaths and lists the specific cause of each one.


Those causes include heart attacks, job related illnesses, drowning, vehicle pursuits, and other causes not the direct result of an assailant.

Let us allow that there may be a thousand or two thousand of other incidents when an officer’s life was on the line due to the unmitigated and unmistaken intent of the suspect, armed and dangerous, and ready to kill.

Yes, those situations are scary and yes officers should be trained to deal with them, and yes officers should be aware of them from the get go.

But no, the focus in training should not be that using your deadly weapon should be the is the first choice of action in response. For when that is your training that is how you will respond to persons who pose no threat to anyone such as Tamir Rice or John Crawford III or Amadou Diallo or Dontre Hamilton or Akai Gurley or…….well you complete the list.

Am I trying to minimize the danger in being in law enforcement? No, that danger is minimized by fact. At least the type of danger that is the be all and end all of these training videos, whcih can be quite graphic. It is easy to imagine that officers develop a mindset whereas their normal and very human desire to remain unharmed may lead to an overreaction to circumstances.

Here I am granting the benefit of the doubt in many of these shootings of unarmed civilians where the truth is, our law enforcement agencies frequently employ their own breed of psychopath, legally armed and with the authority to use that weapon and the rabid eagerness and willingness to do so, irrespective of the need to do so.

If your attitude is “shoot or be shot” you are mush more likely to do the former to pervent the latter, whether justified or not.

Proper training can prepare officers to better handle situations that could put them in danger. When they are taught that every one of over 34 million stops could present that danger when, in fact, fewer than 100 do, it is time to change the training to reflect reality.

I want my police officers to be prepared to protect themselves as well as the public. I do not want them to enter every encounter with a kill or be killed mindset.

We’ll all be safer in the long run.

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  • Devildog  On May 21, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    Wow! What bullshit! The Slate article linked by UMOC is worth reading; what UMOC writes is worth diddly-squat.

    Police are trained in “correct” police procedures, which procedures are most often followed but sometimes not-sometimes to the detriment of the officer and sometimes to the detriment of his or her victim. It would behoove criminals and others to understand those procedures so that someone stopped does not approach the officer with hand in pocket.

    There is no such thing as a person who poses no threat, whether on Main Street, the streets of Baltimore or the streets of Fallujah. There are actions that pose more or less of a threat than others but statistics matter not a whit.

  • Little_Minx  On May 22, 2015 at 12:28 AM

    It would be interesting to see if — or, more likely, how much — the statistics vary from one law enforcement department to the next. Do you have access to such data, to which you could post links?

  • umoc193  On May 25, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    What here is bullshit? Not a goddamned thing. Except for what you said.

    • Devildog  On May 25, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      Is this what UMOC is trying to say. Police need better training. The police should be taught that they are in minimal danger-actually not minimal but once in over three million stops. So, when someone is appraching you with a hand in his pocket, you yell out for him to stop. If he keeps coming, you yell at him to stop and get his hand out of his pocket. If he keeps coming, you fire a shot over his head. If he keeps coming but takes his hand out of his pocket, or he stops and takes his hand out of a pocket holding a gun, depending on how good a shot you are, you shoot him in his gun hand or leg. You’re dead but you are an anomaly.

      That’s the kind of training UMOC wants. Me-shoot him early, shoot him often and shoot to kill. Also, let’s have some public service announcements teaching people to obey police orders-regardless of the color of one’s skin.

      Hope everyone had a nice, and remembering, Memorial Day!

  • umoc193  On May 28, 2015 at 5:05 PM

    Another example of piss poor training. Woman in Florida calls non-emergency line in Florida because boyfriend was thrteatening suicide and she wanted to get him medical help. Cops arrive with assault rifles and kill him. Well, the coroner is probably a doctor.


    • Devildog  On May 28, 2015 at 5:19 PM

      So, UMOC, tell me what went down inside the house. You seem to know. Is suicide by cop merely a figment of the imagination? What is an assault rifle?

      “Piss poor training? How do you know that? If it was suicide by cop, and the cops were knife-attacked, what should the training have been to avoid what happened? Artful dodging?

  • umoc193  On May 28, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    And more on thje racist aspect of policing…from a former cop.


    • Devildog  On May 28, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      UMOC, why don’t you tell your readers about Vox, itsfounders, it’s political makeup, etc. On the other hand, probably not necessary since most of YOUR readers are well aware of that group of extreme, left-wing zealots who will say, “.well done UMOC”.

    • Devildog  On May 28, 2015 at 8:13 PM

      Furthermore UMOC, I direct you to the Post Gazette website where, on many threads, some guy named Hammond has dismissed out of hand cites of articles and studies coming from conservative “rags”.

  • umoc193  On May 28, 2015 at 11:59 PM

    How about this from the same ex-cop but this time in the Washington Post. Sorry, you won’t find this truth on FOX.


    • Devildog  On May 29, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      Yeah, training alone won’t work but every time there is a claim of excessive force we need a special prosecutor. Did I ever deny that excessive force occurs? Times have changed. Now, it’s the reverse in inner cities with monorities in charge, at all levels, in so many cities. Now, we need special prosecutors in places like Baltimore. Remember “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? That’s a problem for cases where “excessive force” actually occurred.

  • umoc193  On May 29, 2015 at 12:35 AM

    I don’t get my news from rags, liberal or conservative. That’s why I avoid Daily Kos. But Vox is a hybrid, no matter what your buddies tell you. Its funding comes from many venture capital funds, some with Republ;ican ties, and some individuals like Brent Jones who is a Republican and Ted Leonsis who, while he donated to Obama and contributed to his campaign, has also openly criticized him. Nothing about Vox suggests it is any thing close to being the left wing equivalent to the websites the RWNJ’s on the P-G subscribe to.

    And I found the article linked to from elsewhwere, not surfing the Vox site for material.

    And I spent considerable time looking into the possibility of an overly biased view and found none.

    • Devildog  On May 29, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      Hammond doesn’t trust what people who have “agendas” have to say either-a former cop who is the ethics man for the NAACP finally telling a story from years ago.

  • umoc193  On May 30, 2015 at 10:35 PM

    Of course he has an agenda! He wants cops to treat people right. Anything wrong with that?

    Now read this report about the nearly 400 people shot and killed by police already this year, about 1/6 of whom were unarmed.

    Oh, no, wait, one guy did have a brrom with a metal end.


    • Devildog  On May 30, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      i read it earlier and it told me nothing of value. What did it tell you other than the raw numbers?

      As far as agendas, may I suggest you never question someone’s agenda in a post since everyone as you suggest has one-noble if you agree with the post and something less than that if you don’t. Don’t be like that guy Hammond-which was the point I was trying to make.

    • Devildog  On May 30, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      Ever been hit in the head with a broom with a metal end?

      • Little_Minx  On May 31, 2015 at 5:05 PM

        Here, dd, hold still while UMOC hands me a broom with a metal end. Now don’t move…

        • Devildog  On May 31, 2015 at 7:26 PM

          I think UMOC should be the target since, apparently, he thinks it will do little if no harm to be smacked beside the head.

      • Little_Minx  On May 31, 2015 at 5:07 PM

        Or maybe dd would prefer that New York City police do to himself what they did to Abner Louima.

        • Devildog  On May 31, 2015 at 7:24 PM

          I’m not going to knock it since I haven’t tried it-but what is your point?

  • umoc193  On June 9, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    Even staunchly conservative Joe Scarborough questions police training.

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