Saturday, November 5, 2016

Paint Pills

Three of us - experienced officers, seasoned trainers - sat in the classroom while recruits geared up. Phones at the ready. The modern era, where minutes after an officer involved shooting we can get the breaking news on our tiny, omnipresent computers. Two more officers down, one dead. NYPD would bury another of its own.

Later, two officers in Missouri were shot, both of whom will probably survive. Yesterday was just another tough twenty four hours in a rotten week. Nine deaths, including several in traffic-related incidents. A little more than half were murdered. Two were ambushed within minutes of each other for no particular reason than that they wore uniforms.

The "War on Cops" phrase may be accurate. Suspects today seem more willing to assault and kill officers, even at the cost of their own lives, than in recent years. Ambushes are up, assaults against officers up, gunshot deaths up. We have better training than ever, better equipment and still...

The problem we face, though, is that wars can end. One side surrenders. There is an agreement to cease hostilities. Something.

American police officers have willingly faced danger since there was such a thing as American police officers. The NYPD officers shot yesterday stopped a man they suspected might be armed - a routine occurrence. 


Totally. But it isn't the gun that matters. Law enforcement is a people profession. We deal with people as they present. The New York city cops were dealing with a man who had been arrested seventeen times. He had a gun. He was desperate. That happens all of the time.

So, we train. We prepare. We take forty-six young men and women, suit them up in protective gear, give them pistols that fire paint pills and teach them to win a gunfight. Not survive. Win.

Not because we are at war with our communities. Because our communities expect us to deal with criminals like the one who shot two Iowa officers as they sat in their cars. Like the one who shot the NYPD cops. And the Missouri cops. And... 

The students were ready. We put away our phones, put on our paintball helmets and went back to the business of teaching recruits how to stay alive. Hoping it would be enough when their moment came.

It always does. It always will.

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