Police officers have their own canon of disturbing videos: a collection of widely viewed and much-discussed field recordings in which their fellow officers are killed or gravely injured in the line of duty, Slate reports. These videos, most of them captured by dashboard cameras, have been watched by police officers across the U.S. for years, and they are talked about with raw emotion on law enforcement message boards. For many officers, they represent a chilling reminder never to lose sight of the unpredictability they face on the street—and to resist any political pressure they might feel to forget their training in the face of danger.
The videos are used as learning tools. While most of them are accessible on YouTube, many officers first see them at the police academy, where instructors use them as a powerful audio-visual aid to illustrate how quickly a seemingly innocuous situation—a routine traffic stop, for instance—can turn violent, and what can happen if an officer doesn't follow standard operating procedure, or is too reluctant to fire his weapon. “Some of these videos show very poor officer safety decisions,” said Sgt. Craig Jones, a training instructor with the Connecticut State Police. New recruits in Connecticut are shown footage of officers being killed in the line of duty along with other kinds of instructional videos. Says Jones, “We don't show an overabundance of [the violent videos] because we don't want [recruits to think] this is what's going to happen in every situation, because it doesn't 98 percent of the time.”