By Max R. Weller
‘Police: Tasers, less-lethal tools unsafe for officers facing suspects with guns’ from the Times-Call. Quoting from the article below:
In the days after a Boulder County deputy shot and killed a Longmont area man who reportedly pulled a gun on deputies sent to his home to check on his well being, Christopher George’s friends wondered why he wasn’t instead detained using a tool such as a Taser.
Police, though, are trained to meet lethal force — a gun pointed at them — with lethal force, according to local police officials.
“Their family has a right to expect them to come home in the same condition they went to work in,” said Longmont Police Sgt. Doug Ross.
Ross is a proponent of less-lethal tactics and used to train officers on the use of the Taser, a handheld device that officers use to shoot two probes into suspects and shock them to help control them without a physical fight or use of guns . . .
“The big thing we have got to make sure everybody understands is these tools are not 100-percent,” Ross said of Tasers. Probes can miss the target, which means a suspect may not experience a shock. Some are impervious to the shock of the Taser.
“They have a right to go home at the end of their shift,” he said of police officers. “They should not take extreme risk for the benefit of the bad guy.”
“Suspect” would have been a more politically-correct term than “bad guy” — but it’s never good to point a firearm at a law enforcement officer.
Continuing excerpt from T-C report:
Boulder County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Heidi Prentup said the initial investigation revealed that George had a 9 mm Russian Makarov and that it was loaded with five rounds. She said three were in the magazine, one was in the chamber, and one was jammed. She said George’s mother initially told dispatchers that her son did not have any weapons, but after the shooting family members recalled that he owned a 9 mm. She said it is not yet clear if the gun he had is the one his family recalled he owned.
She said Bussard was speaking with George while Robinson stood by as part of a police procedure known as “contact and cover.” Bussard asked George to come out of his room to speak in the living room and he declined, she said. He then declined to get out of bed, sit on the side of the bed or move out of the bed to sit on a chair in the room, according to Prentup. George them reportedly reached behind his back and pulled the gun and pointed at the deputies. Bussard yelled “gun” and fired.
“A person who is suicidal is half a step away from being homicidal because if they are willing to kill themselves they are willing to kill other people,” Prentup said. “Going in to talk to somebody on a welfare check you are always on guard to what they could potentially do.”
She said the deputies went to the home to help George. Boulder County deputies are required to take Crisis Intervention Training, an intensive one-week course to help them learn how to deal with suspects who may be suicidal or suffering from a mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. She said Bussard, a 2-year veteran of the office, might not have had the training yet, but Robinson, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 16 years, did.
She said under state law only medical professionals or law enforcement are allowed to place someone on a mental-health hold. Paramedics, she said, were staged to help once the deputies secured the situation.
Paramedics, of course, will NOT intervene in such circumstances until the scene has been “secured” by law enforcement officers — and it’s utterly ridiculous to think that medical first responders should put their own lives in jeopardy.
For most of us, this is ordinary common sense. Here in the Boulder Bubble, however, hostility to authority figures in general and law enforcement in particular often overrides a sober view of reality in the minds of some citizens.
Finishing the article:
Ross said officers may use deadly force when they reasonably believe someone is about to use imminent deadly force against them or another person.
“What we teach them is don’t ever prioritize the suspect over your own life,” he said, adding that decision is often made in a split second.
Prentup added that a person who is suicidal is not the person many people may recall. Their priorities have changed.
“Our goal is for everybody to go home safe, but the suspect ultimately makes that decision,” Prentup said.
In every one of these situations which have been publicized here in the Boulder Bubble, involving individuals who are suicidal and/or homicidal, the suspect’s family members and friends have come forward after the tragic outcome to tell us all what a wonderfully kind and loving person the suspect truly was, and often they will claim that excessive force was used by officers. “Why didn’t the cops wait to see if he was really going to shoot?” This is denial — the psychological tool we all use on occasion to cope with emotional trauma. It’s also scapegoating — blaming others for the suspect’s wrongdoing.
We shouldn’t believe for a moment that such suspects haven’t displayed warning signs long before their behavior spiralled out of control. Family members and friends just didn’t take it seriously enough at the time.
It’s sad, all right, but NOT the fault of law enforcement officers who respond to such crises.