Actions by law enforcement officers during the protest marches in St. Louis during the unrest, due to a judge finding a white police officer not guilty of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a drug dealer suspect, who was black, are being investigated.
Police so often are in situations that require split-second reactions to protect themselves, and others, that we should not be too quick to criticize their shootings or use of force.
It is easy to second-guess and say restraint must be the rule, but often actions happen so quickly that there isn’t time to reflect on rules of engagement. Training only goes so far in preparing an officer how to react in situations that require the use of force.
Before being judgmental, we should put ourselves in the shoes of the officer and consider how we would react.
To investigate any actions by a police officer, especially in unruly protests, in which there are complaints, may be proper procedure, but it can be damaging to police morale. Investigations are proper, especially in situations in which there is evidence that an officer may have been out of line.
To keep the peace, much is demanded of officers today, especially with more people being armed with a gun. There is no question that a police officer’s safety is more precarious than ever before because of an armed public.
There is more pressure than ever before on officers to exercise restraint in dealing with protesters, and the public in general.
We always come back to the question: How would we react if faced with the same situation as an officer?