The horrific events of the past months that have involved police shootings are hard to ignore, and hard to imagine. The latest rounds by, and of, police officers are horrific and depressing. This small post is just me thinking out loud, in the faint hope that my thoughts and ideas might, in some small way, help.
There is no doubt in my mind, and should not be in anyone’s mind, that police officers need to be armed with deadly force. They are literally on the line, on a day-to-day basis, with events that can deteriorate within seconds into life threatening situations. Their lives matter, not only to themselves and to their families, but to all law-abiding citizens of any country.
However, deadly force should always be the choice of last resort. Police officers (and other forces in policing situations) should, and need to be trained in how to deal with situations without resorting to deadly force. Any and all solutions are better than the use of deadly force. They, like all other human beings, are capable of making mistakes, which include mistakes of judgement and of situational assessment. What appears to be a life-threatening situation may, after two or three seconds, evolve into something much less deadly. Taking a step back, and attempting to diffuse a situation, is always preferable to shooting-to-kill.
My imagination had been working overtime, and has come up with an idea which I would like to present to Law Enforcement – and to the weapons manufacturers. The position taken today is often stated roughly as, “The police officer has his/her gun in his/her hand, and cannot take the time to think about whether there is another option.”
Why not produce a hand weapon that combines a pistol and a ‘stun gun’ or “conducted electrical weapon” (“taser”). This is not a technical impossibility: there are many weapons available that have two separate systems, like the M203 grenade launcher – which is a basic M16 rifle with a second, large barrel that shoots grenades.
A pistol with a second barrel that shoots stunning projectiles would give the police officer a choice, that can be made instantaneously, and would in the end a) save lives and b) avoid the horrible consequences of fatal, but erroneous shootings.
This is not an impossible dream, it is not beyond the abilities of modern technology, and I ask everyone that reads this to think about it, and then pass it on to your police department, Ministry of Public Safety and to the weapons manufacturers. This could save lives, and minds.