Officer-involved deaths and injuries of suspects, and particularly shootings, have captured news-media coverage across the United States. Movement to defund police departments gets its fair share of press coverage too.
Logical questions for readers and viewers of such news might include: Is this something new? Does the current state of politics weigh on current news coverage? Are police racially profiling for law enforcement? Why do police sometimes use lethal force? Do most Americans really understand what is involved with “policing” and what officers face on a daily basis?
The general answer to these questions is no. Having worked in a police department writing policies and
procedures, developing and taking part in officer and civilian training, let me offer some thoughts for consideration.
Specifically regarding police shootings, a friend sent me the following:
How to avoid being shot by a cop - written back when LA still believed in law enforcement, reportedly by Cheri Lewis, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles, CA. (See his Linkedin profile.)
“I've devised a five-point plan to help citizens avoid being shot by police. This plan may not prevent all shootings, but very few will take place when the plan is rigorously adhered to. Here are the rules:
Rule #1: DON'T COMMIT VIOLENT CRIMES
It seems elementary, but this rule is lost on many folks. They do the crime, get shot, and then wonder how it could have possibly happened to them? They whine that it's so unfair. Well, Slick, violent crime, like jumping in front of moving cars, is a high-risk occupation, and, in case you missed it, committing violent crime makes police officers think you might not be a good person.
Rule #2: If you ignore Rule # 1 and the police confront you, DON'T RUN AWAY FROM THEM.
I know it's hard to believe, but that may make them think you're guilty of something. Hiding in bushes or closets makes some cops (mostly older ones) very nervous. They might even foolishly conclude that you're up to no good!
Rule #3: If you disregard rules 1 and 2, and the cops catch up with you anyway and inform you that you're under arrest, DON'T MAKE FAST MOVEMENTS WITH YOUR HANDS.
I know it sounds silly, but grabbing a shiny beer can, a dark-colored wallet, or one of those snazzy and real-looking replica guns may make police officers mistakenly believe that you're about to hurt them.
Rule #4: If you disregard rules 1, 2, and 3, and manage to get what looks like a deadly weapon into your hands, DON'T POINT IT AT THE COPS.
We all know that you're basically a nice person, but that may be lost on the police officers confronting you. In their paranoia, they may even believe they need to protect themselves.
Rule #5: If you disregard rules 1, 2, 3, and 4, DON'T BE ASTONISHED IF THE COPS DO NOT INSTANTLY TURN INTO YOUR PERSONAL CONFIDANTS.
They may be too preoccupied to realize that you're normally a splendid person and that you're just having a bad day. They may be too preoccupied to see that when you point a weapon at them in a threatening manner, it's just your way of crying out for help. We both know that the whole problem can be traced to the fact that your mother didn't breast feed you, but some police officers are so cynical they just don't see it.
So, there you have it. If you really apply yourself and obey even some of the rules listed above, I bet you'll avoid the vast majority of police gunfire.”
Lewis’ offered advice helps provide perspective to several recent law-enforcement shootings of suspects, and why officers may have responded as they did, does it not?
As a Gun Talk reader, continue to follow what is going on in the news concerning policing, keep an open mind, get verifiable facts, maintain situational awareness about what is happening near you and across America, vote to support law enforcement, and Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.
He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications, with minors in mourning dove, chukar partridge, pheasant and mountain quail on the breaks of the Snake River.
While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts.
In addition, Mike is a Federal Emergency Management Agency certified instructor and has worked and taught for state and federal agencies. He has responded to seven presidentially declared disasters, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria when they struck Puerto Rico in 2017. He also has worked and taught in Africa and Southeast Asia. Check his website at www.sampsonrisk.com.