In the city of Chicago where 365 people have been killed, most of them by gunfire, January 1 through September 2, 2018 – it’s not violent criminals who are under attack, but the police officers sworn to protect citizens and keep the peace.
It seems as though Chicago police officers are going to be required to report and document every time they point a gun at someone. In a city as dangerous as parts of Chicago are, my guess is officers draw their weapons quite frequently, and yes, point them at someone who appears to be a threat. It’s a simple truth in how they do the jobs taxpayers pay them to do, and there are potentially life-saving reasons why officers draw their weapons.
Would you ask a journalist to report and document every time a question is asked? Would you ask a bus driver to report and document every time the passenger doors are opened? Would you ask a firefighter to report and document every time a fire hose is deployed? Would you ask a photographer to report and document every time the camera shutter is activated? Every job requires the professional doing it to perform certain actions. In a police officer’s duties, yes, he or she is going to find it necessary to point a gun at someone in order to protect the public. It doesn’t happen as often as a journalist fires off questions, it doesn’t happen as often as a bus driver pulls a lever to open passenger doors, but it happens in the course of duty and asking officers to report and document every time their weapon is pointed at someone just causes an officer to second guess his or her actions, possibly putting lives in danger. It will also take officers away from their duties in the field. This is a poor effort on behalf of Illinois’ Attorney General at a time when public safety is of greatest concern in Chicago.
Officers must make split-second decisions, even as chaos is unfolding in every angle of their peripheral vision. They may be right, they may be wrong, but they rely on their training to respond appropriately.
When an officer is entering a building that has been broken into and there is a possibility the suspect is still inside, the officer’s weapon is often drawn. If the suspect appears, the officer is now pointing a gun at that person. If an officer is making a felony traffic stop, the officer has a gun drawn during the time in which it takes to instruct the individual(s) out of the car. You can’t instruct a suspected felon to get out of a car with a baton pointed at him/her.
Let’s face it, police work isn’t pretty, nor is the number of homicides and violent crime on the streets of Chicago. Police officers must be allowed to safely perform their jobs as they protect themselves and law-abiding citizens. A gun is a tool of their trade and it’s there because of the inherent threatening nature of their jobs.
In Los Angeles they have been second guessing their police officers. A Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners made up of civilians who will never be faced with a real-life decision about using deadly force is making decisions about how police officers should respond to threats. The commission of civilians passed a major change to LAPD’s Use of Force policy. Officers are now called upon to first try to retreat and de-escalate situations before using force. Where did that get a innocent bystander who was taken as a human shield by a knife-wielding man? Officers responding to the call tried it the Commission’s way. The innocent bystander ended up dead. Officers could have stopped the knife-wielding man before he took a hostage, before he put a bloodied knife to her throat. She lost her life based on terrible policy set forth for LAPD officers to follow.
Back to Chicago’s report and document plan. If you’ve ever had your actions on the job constantly second-guessed, you know the extreme pressure that is put upon you, you know you are more apt to make mistakes, you know you are not able to perform your job to the best of your ability. And, if that constant second-guessing and pressure keeps up, you’re likely to go to work elsewhere. Is that what Chicago wants, a non-existent police department in a city that has seen more murders than it has seen days, this year?
California is not for off with Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s AB 931 which will be considered at the Capitol when lawmakers return for a new session. Currently in California, police may use “reasonable force” when threatened with danger. AB 931 would remove “reasonable” and change it to necessary” force. What’s the difference? AB 931 would prohibit deadly force by police unless “necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to a third party.” AB 931 changes the language that protects an officer who uses deadly force from “reasonable” to “necessary.” Reasonable is reasonable in life-threatening situations that unfold quickly. Necessary is playing arm chair quarterback.
Law enforcement is necessary in the world we live in. We must remember that the men and women who enter a career in law enforcement are entering this career field because they have a calling to serve and protect. Law enforcement officers go through extensive background checks and psych testing, as well as intensive training. What happens when we can no longer recruit potential law enforcement officers because attorneys general, or mayors, or special interest groups have put so many stipulations on officers it is no longer safe or prudent for them to perform their duties? How safe will neighborhoods and cities be then?
Food for thought – I won’t ask you to report and document your food or your thoughts!