Shootings involving law enforcement are all the rage these days, and so are the subsequent public outcry and protests. Because the average citizen is an expert in law enforcement and subduing dangerous assholes. They just don’t want to actually do the dirty work. It’s so much easier to sit on the sidelines and point fingers.
I’m not in law enforcement, and I’m definitely no genius as my life partner would be the first to point out, but let’s, as a thought exercise, consider the options available to the typical law enforcement officer responding to the typical case of an uncooperative – substance use or just plain stubborn – subject posing a significant threat to the public, with or without weapons:
(a) Not intervene and hope problem goes away: Chances of no one reporting a menacing subject in this age of cell phone warriors who call emergency services for everything under the sun – zero. Walking away just means someone else will call. So, not a viable option. Public criticism likely – “They just stood there and watched.” or “They didn’t do nothing.” or “Why didn’t they just Tase him?”
(b) Not intervene but problem doesn’t go away: Chances of innocent parties harmed by said subject – quite realistic. EMS will be pissed. So, not a viable option. Public criticism inevitable; everyone will line up to criticize the lack of intervention like Monday-morning quarterbacks from hell as usual – “They just stood there and watched.” or “Why didn’t they just shoot him?” or “That crazy drunk guy stabbed a cute little puppy because the cops didn’t do anything!”
(c) Negotiate, coax: Chances of compliance from an uncooperative subject – low. Waste of resources. Closure of area required. So, not a very practical option. Public criticism very likely – “They just stood there and watched.” or “But I gotta get through! I gotta go to work! You stupid cops! Just shoot him!”
(d) Hand-to-hand combat: Against an uncooperative subject with less than 3 officers – not effective. Appears violent. Skews public perception. Injuries and workers’ comp likely. Overtime costs increase. Harm to innocent parties possible. EMS will be pissed. So, not a very practical option. Public criticism likely – “Why is he out on disability?” or “Why didn’t they just Tase him?” or “Why were they so rough?”
(e) Taser: Likely effective against most subjects, less effective with involvement of substance use and/or psychiatric issues. Used to gain compliance before situation escalates. Prongs not guaranteed to effectively penetrate. Not appropriate when said subject is already charging and danger is imminent. Many myths surrounding its use. EMS will definitely be pissed. Public criticism very likely – “Why didn’t they just talk him down?” or “Why didn’t they just shoot him?”
(f) Service weapon: Effective if accurate. When danger is imminent. Aim will be at center mass. Goal is complete incapacitation. Clean background free of unintended targets required. EMS will definitely be pissed. Public criticism guaranteed – “They didn’t have to shoot him!” or “Why didn’t they just Tase him?” or “He got in some trouble before but he was cleaning up his life!” or “He has two young children!” or “Cops are murderers!”
For some perspective, here’s a video of what is essentially the basic idea behind the Tueller Drill.
Cops: Thank God I’m not you. Be safe.