Friday, July 22, 2016
Why police shoot innocent people
I've never worn the blue uniform, and chances are you haven't either. Before you read another word, this is not a police-bashing post. I have the greatest respect for people who serve and protect us, and who stand in harm's way, those who live knowing they might have to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty.
Okay, why do police shoot innocent people?
I can think of two reasons, in general, on why innocent people end up shot by the police.
Again, I'm not nor have I ever been in their shoes, but common sense makes it clear that #1, sometimes, who is "innocent" isn't clear, sometimes people make the wrong decisions, and not everyone is perfect, and unfortunately mistakes are made in the heat of the moment. That's my defense for the completely accidental shootings where police who have honor and integrity make regretful mistakes. This is one of the reasons I can see why police shootings happen.
By the way, I can't imagine the anguish an officer has to deal with for the rest of their lives after pulling the trigger and harming or killing an innocent person. Before we judge all the police the same, think that over.
Again, I'm not bashing the badge, but I'm also smart enough to know that not all police are stellar examples either. Some police, I'm sure, have shot people when they didn't need to, out of anger, or simply out of cowardly convenience.
How can I balance this, this idea that I respect the uniform and the people who wear it, and yet acknowledge that some police aren't "innocent" in their mistakes? Simple. It's called the seduction of power.
The second reason police shoot innocent people, is the person behind the badge is a fraud. Police, Pastors, School Principals, Troop leaders, and a few other positions/titles in our society attract people with the wrong motivations, people who are very unhealthy, people who will and do prey on those for whom they should be nurturing or saving. There are people on power trips, who misuse and abuse their station in life.
Sadly, this misrepresentation of the uniform or office harms those who should be being protected or cared for. Which is, by the way, the reason everyone is so raw over police brutality or when priests molest young boys.
What we can't do in our current situation, is overreact and label all police as bad. We can't enact restrictions or make their difficult job even harder to perform. They don't need more paperwork or body-cameras (unless they want this, to help protect their reputations).
What we can and should do, is have a better selection process on who we let serve on the front end, provide support along the way, provide ongoing training, and give them time away to relax and untangle their lives from the harsh work they do. This again goes for people in ministry or school administration, or any office where there's a risk of drawing in people who might abuse their position.
I've met people who are police officers (or who wanted to join the force) yet who never should've become one. And, I know some really good stand up guys who I'm proud to be friends with who are the type of police we all need.
The reality is, we need to make sure we don't rush to judgement and lump everyone together. These are highly emotional times we are in, and we need to be calmer than we are, and more reasonable than we want to be.