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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: North Bay / Marin | Police State and Prisons
The Effects of Officer Involved Shootings On Police Officers
In this letter I discuss how the recent officer involved shootings have effected how police officers may react when they are confronted with a dangerous subject. Shootings of black men by the police are frequently in the media and are often seen as unnecessary by the public. This may cause officers to hesitate pulling the trigger because they do not want to be labeled as a killer by the media.
To whom it may concern,
As a Senior at Sonoma State University majoring in Sociology I have spent time examining several different social issues that are currently happening. I would like to focus on the issues surrounding the police shootings that have occurred. I am not, however, going to argue whether or not police are using violence and racism to target black people. Quite the opposite, I would like to focus on how the recent shootings and protests have affected the way police officers do their job.
There have been so many cases lately where a police officer shoots and kills a black man and as a result they receive media attention and there is a public uproar about how the shooting was or was not justified. These cases may cause other officers to hesitate when confronted with a similar situation in which it is unknown if the subject has a weapon.
Hesitation could cost an officer his life. A study done by Washington State University found that officers are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects. Why is this? It is possible that the hesitation that officers experience is a result of the negative views the public has in response to other recent shootings. But this shouldn't be the case.
An officer should not risk his own life because he doesn't want to be ridiculed by society. If an imminent threat is present an officer has to make a split-second decision of whether or not to pull the trigger. It isn't about racial profiling, it is about safety.
Black Lives Matter protestor, Jarrett Maupin, met with a law enforcement agency to experience what police officers may encounter on a day to day basis. They gave him a gun and put him through several hostile situations. In one situation he was shot by the subject after he let him go out of sight behind a vehicle. In another, he shot an unarmed man after he was approached and felt that there was an imminent threat.
This opportunity allowed Maupin to experience first hand what an officer may encounter on a daily basis and it ultimately changed his viewpoint. There will be times when a police shooting is not justified and there will always be protests following shootings, but it is important that law enforcement officers do not let what has happened in the past shape how they will react when confronted with a dangerous person.
In order to prevent future unnecessary deaths we must educate society about what to do when approached by an officer for their own safety and we must continue to train law enforcement officers in the use of lethal force.