Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Hard Pill

"The truth can be hard to swallow, but it's always best to embrace it."

A North Charleston (SC) police officer was arrested after video surfaced that suggests he shot 50 year old Walter Scott as Scott tried to flee from a confrontation that began with a simple traffic stop. It seems ironic, and obvious, that the most horrific episodes in law enforcement often begin with the most mundane encounters.

"The investigation continues" as the saying goes. The department has fired him and he sits in jail, his pregnant wife at home. Scott left four children, a fiance and family members who have suggested calm as a way to honor him.

 Mistake? Intentional act of malice?

Police officers train to respond properly to that moment when anger, fear and adrenal outrage coalesce into the decision to act. Repetition, consideration and an understanding of the awesome responsibility vested by their communities leads to an avalanche of wise decisions, sacrifice and the bitter taste of the consequences of even proper uses of deadly force. We are, a stunning majority of the time, up to the task.

Human beings are fallible. One of the horrible truths of law enforcement, a college professor opined, is that we must select officers from among a group prone to error, to shortcoming. When the stakes are high, there must be a discernible margin between what is right, and what is not..

My prayers are with Mr. Scott and his family.

My thoughts are with those who wear the badge and enter the fray prepared to sacrifice everything for our communities. We always begin our day in quiet contemplation that we will not falter in the hour we are tested.

Because we are human.

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