I think that the new policy that puts emphasis on the de-escalation of force prior to the use of deadly force is necessary. Too many deaths of unarmed or mentally ill people who could not have done any harm to police officers occur because the current policies do not restrict officers’ weapon use. Criminals are bad people, but they are people, too. Some of them resort to breaking the law because of extreme poverty or stressful situations. Also, people may be forced by someone to commit a crime. In such situations, a criminal should have a right to explain his or her actions at a court. When a person gets a chance to repent, he or she can still be justified and set free. Even if one is imprisoned, it is still better than being shot because a police officer did not take time to think for a few moments and make sure that the criminal was unarmed.
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However, situations may be different, and various approaches are needed in each particular case. When an officer has grounds to think that his or her life is in danger, he should not think about anything else than saving his/her life. Everyone knows that work in police belongs to highly challenging jobs. Therefore, doing what they do on daily basis – keeping order in the streets and saving people from attackers, helping those who suffer from domestic violence or finding the stolen things – already is a risky thing. Thus, when an officer finds him/herself in a situation when there is an increased danger to their life, he/she should think of personal safety in the first place.
I do not think that officers’ lives will be placed under unnecessary harm. Their safety depends on their skills and speed of reaction. A police officer should be ready to evaluate the situation and see whether the criminal is armed. In case he/she is armed and is aiming the weapon at the officer, the latter should use deadly force. In another case – when a criminal is not armed or when there is no obvious threat to the officer’s life, everything should be done to arrest the criminal without applying deadly force.
If an officer has to violate the new policy and does use deadly force, an investigation should be performed. If the inspection of a case demonstrates that there was no other way out, the punishment should not be more severe than a reprimand. However, if the investigation shows that the attacker was not armed, or could not have harmed the officer, the latter should undergo a serious procedure of punishment, starting from being discharged from work and up to being sentenced for murder. Each case should be analyzed thoroughly, and special attention should be paid to such investigations.
I am convinced that this policy will reduce the number of officer-involved shootings. The reason why I think so is that police officers will be afraid of responsibility for abusing their power. When they realize that not all of their actions will be covered by merely belonging to this profession, they will be more considerate and will learn to value other people’s lives. Even if someone is a criminal, this individual should have an opportunity to repent or, at least, should receive a fair punishment and spend some time in prison.