J U LY 2 0 1 5 A U G WHY FERGUSON WILL NOT HELP THE PROBLEM Paul Sarantakos This is not a blame or point the finger piece. The reality is there is plenty to go around. Plus in each of the tragic situations that we have read and heard somuch about over the last fewweeks, we do not have the full story, because we were not there. To be honest, the people involved did not have the full story either, here in lies part of the problem. As with all issues there are two sides. With regards to police use of force there are two sides and two issues to each side. On the one hand we have public perception and expectations and the other we have police training (legal) and expectations. What is happening in our society today, is not helping to solve the under lying issues we face. We have the public protesting “police brutality” and we have police (or police support groups) sponsoring pro- grams to “back the badge” and support police. All of these things are good but they are not productive at getting to or even identifying the issue. W e have a perception issue in our communities and it is leading to tragic circumstances that

asking people to consider that police officers are asked to run toward gunfire, toward overt threats of violence, to- ward situations where others have called--sometimes fran- tic--for help. And we ask them not only to extract people from imminent danger, but to apprehend the source of the threat. In fact, we excoriate the police when they let violent criminals “get away”. And we ask them to do this even though they are just as mortal, just as susceptible to harm, as any of the rest of us. This is not the cause nor is it an excuse; it is genuinely a missing piece of the puzzle as we try to find a productive way to discuss the societal reality. The second piece from the police perspective centers on training, legality, and necessity. Our media has focused a great deal of attention on the first two when “reporting” on these events. This is not a minimization of those two factors, there are of course lynch pins of how our system functions. continued on page 23

can escalate into the use of deadly force. Let me start from the police perspective. In policing, the simplest and easiest part of this to explain (for those in the field or not) is police expectations. All police officers, their families, and those associated with them expect that the officer will come home unharmed after their shift. While we could make that statement for any job or profession, this is uniquely true for policing (same for military on active duty in a combat zone). I say this only because policing is the only profession where injury can come from accidents and also as a deliberate action from another person whose intent is to cause you harm or death. While the expectation is clear enough, the underlying cause of that expectation is an in- credibly important piece of this conversation. Police think differently. They are trained to think differently, and we need them to think differently. But it strikes me as worth


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