Let me state this pure and simple: whenever police action results in the serious injury or death of another person police need to deeply and honestly examine what happened, be open about what they uncover, and if something went wrong — fix it!
Here are some internal questions that need to be asked…
Was there any way this incident could have been prevented?
Was there any reasonable way that a lesser use of force could have been used?
What is the current policy regarding events like these? Is the policy clear?
What is the current training with regard to these incidents? How are you actually training our officers to respond to them?
What is the current practice in the field? Does your internal culture support your policies, training, and practices?
This is what professional, thinking police do. They ask questions and they find aswers. And when they find that their actions could have been better, could be improved, they do so. Immediately.
What might prevent police from doing so?
The incident may be highly charged politically and better to be quiet. It may be feared that the incident will result in liability and cost to the city (therefore, better to hold the line rather than indicate there may be trouble with the line). The attitude that “we’re the police, and you’re not!” Defensively thinking, as long as it’s legal, it’s okay.
But if our nation’s police are to take their rightful place in our communities as the moral leaders they should be, then they need to act accordingly, seek to improve in order to be trusted. Walk their talk. And remembering that trust and community support does not come from opaqueness but from openness.
I don’t think our communities expect their police to be perfect — but I do believe they expect them to be honest, always seeking to improve things, explaining what and why they do it, and have a deep and believable respect for human life.
When police do this, they reflect who we are as a people and it makes their job more safer and easier.