Chief Scott Hughes’ powerful commentary, Deputy Cleared…But the Profession is in Trouble, penned in the wake of the prosecution and subsequent acquittal of an Ohio deputy charged after the shooting death of a fleeing, non-compliant suspect drew heavy response.
Here is some of what we heard from officers across the country:
Lt. Dan Marcou (ret.), Co-author of Street Survival II: Tactics for Deadly Force Encounters responded:
I survived my career because I didn’t ever count on my department for all of my survival training. I trained extensively on my own time and my own dime and am still alive because of that personal policy. The Chief makes a very powerful point in that the same state that mandates a pitiful amount of training for their officers prosecutes them when their training fails them. That is so sad and so true.
Colonel Jim Smith, Public Safety Director at the Cottonwood (AL) PD wrote:
LEOs are not perfect. They like anyone else, even those with extensive training, still make mistakes. Until law enforcement educates the public about this shortcoming and takes steps to enhance training to prevent such, nothing will change.
Special Investigator David Durkop with the TX Dept. of Family Services shared:
Many prosecutors are politicians. The majority of politicians only care about their career. Many Chiefs fall into this definition. Why was the officer prosecuted? Was it for legal reasons or was it to make some politician look good to his constituents?
No officer is perfect. Could the officers on the scene have performed better? Most likely. We can ALL improve our performance. A key point would be whether they trained to the perfection that the politicians expected and did said politicians lobby for better training (money for training)?
Dynamic training is expensive and has its own set of optics that many politicians hate.
Even with higher salaries being offered many departments are having trouble recruiting new officers. Few jobs are as rewarding as law enforcement, but there is a point where the cost-to-benefit ratio to the individual officer becomes so great that they will no longer take on the heartaches that the job entails.
From Off. James O’Neill with the Royersford Borough (PA) PD:
I am still encouraging young people to consider the career. As I have said too many times, if we as veteran officers, despite the negatives we are dealing with now, do not improve our profession and encourage the next generation to be even better, everything will go sideways.
I retired honorably after 28yrs from a busy PD. Now I work part time for a much quieter PD. I still work the job not because I need to, but because I want to. Reality is the responsibilities and the potential liabilities are the same. At some point I will be done, and I want a motivated, qualified and capable individual to take my place.
I will continue to do my best to educate those willing to listen of the realities and challenges of the job. l will be diligent about who I am voting for and where they really stand on issues related to the profession. Most importantly, as long as I am wearing a uniform, I will continue to be personally responsible for improving my skills as an officer. The learning and the desire to learn should never end. Even if on “Your dime and your time.”
Director Doug Parker at Southwest Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Pueblo Community College in Southwest Dolores, CO wrote:
Speaking for myself and my academy, we emphasize over and over that the training cadets receive here is only the start. They must take it upon themselves to build on the foundation we set. This has always been true.
In addition, they need to recognize that their agencies may not provide all the training possible due to staffing and budgets. Our academy regularly invites our graduates to return and participate in class as refreshers, as well as act as role players. They have to fill in the gaps. That’s what every professional in every profession does.
Our profession can’t turn back the clock. We must move forward, endure what needs to be endured, and focus on our mission. Are your comments about prosecutors, media and anti-law enforcement agendas valid? Yes. Control what we can and leave the rest to others. That’s never changed and never will. The picture isn’t bright nor is it dim. In my 40+ years in the job I’ve seen this several times and believe that our good people will persevere because they ARE good people.
Police trainer Mike Wood from North Carolina responded:
GREAT work on the editorial!
Sadly, I think things will get worse before they get better, but they WILL eventually get better.
The current path is unsustainable, and we’re already seeing the hardest hit areas starting to feel the pain, like San Francisco and Los Angeles where people are fleeing the city, including a lot of generational families, businesses, and wealth. But they’re not feeling enough pain yet. Things have to get worse before the Common Man demands change. Like I said, we’re getting close in some places, but we’ve got a way to go in most places, still. Not enough people feeling the direct effects of soft-on-crime policies, but it’s certainly heading their way.
The upcoming 2024 elections will put the spotlight on crime and focus national attention on all the issues we’re seeing, and it might motivate the voting public to get their shit together. We’ll see.
Just think how bad NYC had to get before they finally elected Giuliani to clean house. We’re not there yet. I just hope the few good cops remaining can hang in there long enough for the wheel of history to turn again.
In the meantime, industry professionalism and competence will take a hit, and officers will get hurt. People who don’t belong in uniform will get the job because they’re the only option, and they’ll be the problems that just keep giving (thinking LAPD “Rampart” and Memphis/Tyre Nichols, for example). Young officers without experienced role models will make rookie mistakes that get them hurt and killed (what I’ve been billing as “the new Newhall”), too.
Dangerous times ahead.
Former reserve police sergeant Michael Creek with the South Pasadena (CA) says:
The new paradigm is whenever there is a use of force that generates negative press, immediately fire the officer. If the negative press continues, prosecute the officer. The weak-kneed mayors, and city councils and police chiefs allow this to happen because they think it is cheaper and safer than riots in the streets.
Perhaps in the short run, it is, but not in the long run. Officers see their partner get fired for something they have done and wonder when am I next? My FTO told me that if you go out into the field and do police work you will get complaints. If you sit at the station and wait for calls and take your time getting there, you will never get a complaint, and likely get promoted because your package has no negatives.
Over time this leads to police officers who don’t take any self-initiated action and who do very little when they are dispatched to an incident. Most people become cops because their friends or relatives told them it is the best job in the world. It is not that anymore and the recruiting numbers show that.
Sgt. J. C. Mixon (ret.), formerly with the Mobile (AL) PD wrote:
I write this response as a veteran officer/deputy with almost 28 years of law enforcement experience, which include military police, working for a large municipal police force and now for the county Sheriff’s Office. To see police officers being criminally prosecuted for errors that occur as a result of little to no real world training is sickening. Here in my home state of Alabama, Huntsville Police Officer William Darby was convicted of murder because he killed a man who would not drop a gun. The case has a lot of media coverage and in March of this year Officer Darby’s 2021 conviction was overturned. He will be retried in December and is out of prison for now.
The trend of cops being held to an impossible standard and no legislative body finding the funding to pay for training are dooming the next generation of cops to failure. This is why we have recruiting puddles and not pools. My son recently finished a six-year stint in the Navy. My advice to him was to go be a firefighter, because the world loves our evidence eradication teams.
Rant Respectfully Submitted.
And finally, Former DEA Special Agent Ed Wezain commented:
The first two things to get dropped when money is tight is training and maintenance. We then wonder why stuff doesn’t work properly, whether it is mechanical or human. This has only been compounded by the defund police movement and liberal prosecutors who have the luxury of spending months to examine a situation when an officer has mere seconds. In this instance I would bet neither of these two officers has ever had actual training on how to enter a closed vehicle with a non-compliant individual inside. A tragedy, absolutely. A crime, absolutely not.