Friday, August 24, 2012

NYPD Officers, Use of Deadly Force, and the Shooting Outside the Empire State Building

Police officers around the nation have among the toughest jobs in the nation. They're entrusted with protecting and saving lives and bringing those who violate the law to justice. There are times when those jobs conflict with each other - such as during car chases or gun battles.

It's very difficult to blame the officers for taking the actions they did, but it is unsettling to see that so many of those injured in today's shooting outside the Empire State Building were hit by stray gunfire from the police officers who were trying to subdue the gunman, Jeffrey Johnson. Some reports are indicating that all of those who were injured were from police gunfire, not the assailant's gun.

The NYPD is the largest police force in the nation, and they've done a remarkable job in reducing crime across the city - the murder and other violent crimes rates are down tremendously from just a decade ago. That doesn't mean that their policies and practices are above reproach.

There are ways to improve their training and procedures so that lives aren't put at risk. Currently, police officers have to rotate through the firing range once a year. That would appear to be insufficient to maintain the skills and proficiency in dealing with situations such as today's shooting.

Increasing the training/proficiency requirements costs money and the Department's financial situation is tight, but doing so is the prudent thing and can save money in the long term - such as avoiding lawsuits and improving tactics and training.

Today's shooting also seems to undermine the argument that allowing more firearms could have saved lives in the Aurora movie massacre or other mass shooting incidents around the nation. When trained police officers inflict injuries on bystanders in the process of taking down a perpetrator, why would anyone think that civilians with firearms would do any better? That ignores the training that police officers have to undergo to be police officers (and the periodic training updates).

No comments: