Many Americans distrust police officers. It’s understandable, really, when you see all of the media coverage of police corruption. We’ve covered some of the more disgusting instances of police and government employee corruption over the years.
Still, it would be unfair to paint all law enforcement officers with those same broad-brush strokes. Most law enforcement officers seek to do a good job, to serve their communities, and to do the right thing. One example recently came to light in which a suicidal man tried to get police to shoot him. Officers arrived at the scene and, when one officer knocked on the door, he saw the muzzle of a gun. He called for his partner and physically tried to restrain the man. Jack Burns writes,
[Officer] Brickner said his first instinct was to get, “the muzzle of that weapon planted in the ground where it wasn’t going to be able to do anything.”
During the struggle, the firearm went off (fortunately, it appears, without injuring anyone), and the second officer came upon the scene and ordered the man to put down the weapon. Burns notes that the other officer would have been justified in shooting the man at this point, and the man is heard on videos of the incident saying, “Please shoot me. I wanna die. Please kill me.” Fortunately, the officer maintained presence of mind in a stressful and threatening situation. The officers, instead, used a taser to immobilize the man long enough to disarm him and cuff him. Burns notes,
In an era where it seems police officers often shoot first and ask questions later, it is refreshing to see a brave officer who thought less of his own safety and more it appears on doing the right thing to save not only his partner but the suicidal man.
I have to agree with Burns on this. When someone points a firearm at you, your adrenaline levels soar, clear thinking becomes difficult, and maintaining presence of mind becomes a real challenge. But, thankfully, these two police officers were able to maintain composure and safely disarm this man without unnecessarily ending a human life. They are to be commended for that.
You may be asking, at this point, why we would even bring up a story like this considering the difficult situation that many Americans find themselves in when dealing with law enforcement and the government in general. The point is this: we must be careful not to judge a person by the clothes they wear (such as a police uniform). All too often our actions are based on our judgments about people without knowing those people, and, in the case of judging a police officer, that could go very badly for you. When dealing with law enforcement, keep your head, be civil, and realize that, most likely, they are on your side, too. A little civility and withholding of judgment can go a long way towards preventing a situation from becoming tragic.