Police Use of Force

Police Use of Force

Reprinted from The Opinion Pages of The New York Times, November 4, 2016

To the Editor:

After reading “Shootings of, and by, Officers Demand a Tightrope Walk From DeBlasio” (news article, Oct. 21), I found myself more concerned with the flip side of that argument. I, and the community at large, should be more concerned with the tightrope that police officers are being asked to walk in this city.

As a law enforcement officer with 30 years’ experience, I feel that the practice of blaming individual officers for use of force is shortsighted. As a society, we must focus on the real issue: Are police officers being properly trained in use-of-force scenarios?

The media, politicians and many inside the police profession fail to properly examine the complexities of the 21st-century police officer. A prime example is the expanding mental health crisis.

A recent study found that about 7 percent of all police contacts with citizens involve someone believed to have a mental illness. We must then ask, Is the police profession recognizing this through enhanced training, or are we ignoring it and second-guessing the individual officer after he takes action based upon what he is taught?

If there is a need to blame, let’s place the blame where it is deserved.

President, New York City
Detective Investigators’ Association
New York