Pilots learn early in their training to rely on a checklist to safely fly an aircraft of any shape and size. Interestingly, experience has little to do with the requirement to rely on a carefully prepared checklist to make sure that you fly safely and competently. One of my flying mentors, an airline super pilot with over 30,000 hours, still relies on a methodical checklist review before calling for clearance to fly. He flew 777’s all over the world and now flies General Aviation airplanes with the same degree of diligence. Police officers, when they hit the streets, do not have a checklist. Human nature does not lend itself to uniformity, and one approach does not serve every need. Let’s talk about it a bit.
The current lack of support for the policing profession is rooted in the unfortunate death of folks in police confrontations. It is popular to demand that police officers be retrained with an emphasis on peaceful resolution of confrontation as if a degree in psychology is going to be helpful in handling an intoxicated individual who is hell bent on fighting. Rather than advantaged, the psychologist is going to be woefully under equipped to handle a sociopath who is brandishing a deadly weapon and advancing menacingly. There is no time to apply a textbook, clinical technique to the management of this confrontation. Someone is going to get hurt. I can guarantee that political figures who want policing defunded would rather have an armed, street wise officer between them and a homicidal sociopath than a school trained conversationalist. When this encounter develops, there is no time for a checklist. Again, someone is likely going to get hurt.
I am writing today, because reasonable people are being led by folks who are anything but reasonable. Oregon has just legalized heroin and crystal meth for recreational use, thus turning another group of potentially dangerous folks out to be regulated by the police. We are on the verge of completely legalizing marijuana with no empirical system in place to determine the degree of impairment while driving or interacting in public. The police will handle the problems without the aid of a checklist. These political figures are bending to the will of a presumably small element of our society and handing off their regulation to the police. There is no checklist for handling a meth addled person who has become violent. In these confrontations there is, again, a very real possibility that someone is going to get hurt. The officer’s role is to determine exactly who that someone is. I am guessing that political figures that scream for the abolishing of the police have little respect for authority in the first place. Reason is nowhere to be seen in their lame justifications.
It is believed that medical error accounts for over 250,000 deaths in America each year, the third leading cause of death. We still stand behind our medical professionals and recognize the practice of medicine is an inexact science that involves judgement. Is it too much to ask that we accord police professionals more respect than suggesting this profession that delivers thousands upon thousands of peaceful resolutions each year be tossed? I think not.
We begin the year with “0” on the score card for police deaths. This score will begin to climb in short order and we need to recognize the role the police play in instilling order in what would otherwise be a chaotic and self destructing free society. We work without a checklist……..because a checklist won’t work. Just as there is no uniformity in people, there is no uniformity in approaches to them……….
Have a great weekend, and super New Year!