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Some people believe that “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have absolutely nothing to worry about when contacted by the police.”  Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As this video illustrates, no matter how small the infraction, every encounter with a cop is potentially fatal.

That’s why this video, although shocking, is by no means surprising. In fact, the ingredients that led to this shooting are present in almost every interaction the police have with the public.

The First Rule of Policing

The First Rule of Policing simply states, “Make it Home for Dinner”. On the surface, that sounds perfectly reasonable. Officers should be concerned about their own safety. However, if officers take the rule literally and make their own personal safety their #1 priority, it can lead to paranoia.

If your primary objective is to not get killed, then your primary activity will be to look out for things that might kill you. And, that is exactly how cops are trained. Consider this response to the question, “What should I do if I am stopped by the police?”:

One of the most important things to understand, is that more police officers are killed each year while conducting motor vehicle stops than during any other police function.  It is because of this fact, police officers are trained to approach vehicles with extreme caution.

it is VERY important you stay inside your vehicle and ensure that you or your passengers DO NOT make any sudden movements.  Any type of movement may be perceived by the officer as a threat.  At this point the officer may approach your vehicle with their weapon drawn and may even order you and your passengers from the vehicle at GUN POINT.  Remember, this is a very dangerous situation for a police officer, through their training and experience, they are trained to expect and assume worst case scenarios!

You read that right. While the cop is ordering you out of the car at gunpoint, THEY are terrified that YOU are about to kill THEM. If you do anything that frightens them, they will perceive it as a threat. And, to save their own lives, they will use deadly force to shoot you dead.

That’s why experts advise the public to be “overly cautious when dealing with law enforcement, since officers are trained to be prepared for the worst case scenario.” Unfortunately, as this video demonstrates, even if you obey the officer’s exact commands, if the officer is scared enough, you still might get shot.

The Misrepresentation of Police Danger

This increasingly paranoid mindset seems strange if you consider that crime has been steadily decreasing for years now. To hear cops tell it, the streets are war zones and things are getting worse every day. The facts, however, paint a different picture:

  • Policing has been getting safer, not more dangerous
  • Violent crime has been continually decreasing, not increasing
  • Police deaths have been falling steadily since the 1990’s
  • 2013 was one of the safest years for police in 50 years

The US crime rate is the lowest it has been in decades. And yet, the police culture of fear and paranoia continues to grow. Anecdotes of officer’s dying because they hesitated for an instant abound:

I saw one video where an officer was attacked by a teenager girl with a pistol, and he drew and CONTACTED her body with his muzzle, BUT COULD NOT FIRE since it was a small girl. I have heard of scenarios where a fear of being sued led to officers that died, for lack of taking decisive action. Again, if you feel you cannot shoot anyone (elderly woman, teenager, Catholic priest turned EDP) that is posing an immediate deadly threat to you or another officer, McDonalds is hiring on a continual basis.

To help overcome this hesitation, one company even created shooting range targets with pictures of pregnant women, children, and the elderly on them:

…there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition … This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations. The goal of NMH [No More Hesitation] is to break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc. If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.

Again, you read that right. Officers were being trained so that they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot pregnant women and children, all in the name of officer safety.

The targets were discontinued when the public found out about them and voiced concerns. But, more concerning than the targets themselves is the idea behind them. Some cops really believe that in order to survive, they need to condition themselves to kill anyone, anytime, with zero hesitation.

This is reflected in the training they receive. Instead of teaching officers how to avoid killing people, many departments teach them how to avoid getting blamed for it:

Much of the training today focuses on how to justify force after it has already been used — in other words, not how to avoid shooting people, but how to protect yourself and the department from liability once you have.

You have 20 Seconds to Comply

Unfortunately for the officers, they aren’t the only ones that want to make it home for dinner. Law abiding citizens like myself would like to do that as well. The problem is, for many of us, the biggest threats to life and liberty we face come from the police, not criminals.

Speaking solely from my own experience, I’ve had far more negative run ins with the cops than with criminals. Criminals have stolen things from me in the past, and it’s cost me money. But they’ve never surrounded me in public, detained me illegally, or violated my rights because I “matched the description.” Criminals might do that to me some day. But the cops HAVE done that to me on numerous occasions.

As a man, I’d much rather be robbed of my possessions than of my dignity. But, when you’re dealing with cops, self preservation dictates that dignity is the first thing you must abandon. If you try to assert your rights, some officers might see that as a failure to comply. Failure to comply constitutes disobedience, and disobedience constitutes a potential threat.

People who have a hard time understanding why cops open fire on people for minimal infractions don’t really understand how keyed up many of these cops are psychologically. But when you realize that they are taught to look at everyone as a threat and trained to deal with every threat as a worst case scenario, it starts making more sense.

I’m sympathetic to concerns for officer safety, but not at the expense of my Constitutional rights.

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