The deaths by gunshot of at least 14 police officers this month doesn't mean there's a “war” between police and criminals, Sgt. Norman Jahn, a 20-year veteran of the Las Vegas Police Department, tells NPR. “The approach we have to take cannot be like the military,” Jahn says. “We are civilian police,” he says, noting that the situation in Las Vegas and other U.S. cities is far from what it is in parts of Mexico or Afghanistan.
Jahn wrote to the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the newspaper ran a series on police training that played up the combat-like aspects of some of the exercises. “Civilian police officers must keep their focus on serving and protecting our communities and taking steps to maintain trust,” he said. While he doesn't want to minimize the tragic losses that some police departments and families have suffered, Jahn says public perception of the police, and how they do their jobs, is crucial to that trust. As an example, Jahn notes that an officer who comes upon someone firing a weapon in public shouldn't think first about returning fire — but instead, they should do everything they can to ensure the safety of people in the area.