When Police Shoot, Should They Be Required to Render Aid?

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The Washington Post and the New York Times explore the question of whether police officers who shoot people should be required to render immediate aid. The Post says the lack of medical attention to those shot by police has been a central grievance in protests over police shootings of black people over the last two years. It has arisen anew in the police shooting death in Tulsa last week of Terence Crutcher, 40, who lay on the ground for more than two minutes before officers gave medical attention. Policing experts say that while best practices dictate that aid should be provided as soon as officers no longer feel they are facing a threat of violence, officers’ judgment of when that is the case — especially in the moments after a violent incident — are likely to differ from that of the public.

“It is reasonable for people to assume that when it is safe for the officers to do so, that they would render first aid to somebody they’ve just shot,” Jim Bueermann, a former police chief who is president of the Police Foundation, told the Times. “But a lot of departments do not have policies that clearly articulate the officer’s responsibilities in that situation, and some have no policy at all.” This year, the Police Executive Research Forum issued 30 use-of-force policies that police departments should adopt, including a requirement that officers render first aid when they can. Officials and rank-and-file officers have raised objections to other recommendations on the list, but not to that one, said Chuck Wexler, the group’s executive director.

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