Police Defender Group Demonstrates Challenges In Deadly Force Decisions


Since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., police have been trying to justify how they use deadly force. The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which raises money to defend police accused of misconduct, has responded by inviting reporters and members of the public to undergo a simulation to learn how tough it is to be a cop, NPR reports. “When I saw some of the coverage about Ferguson, I was astonished by the lack of understanding by people in the media about the realities of being a police officer,” said Ron Hosko, the fund’s president. Police may have just a few seconds to make decisions that can mean life or death. Court precedent leans toward giving law enforcement the benefit of the doubt, even in close calls. “There is an expectation that a police officer act reasonably, not that they have to be right,” he added.

People who run through the simulation are equipped with a Glock 22 that’s been modified to house a laser, with a CO2 cartridge in the magazine, as well as an inert chemical agent that’s also been modified to house a laser. Both training weapons are attached to a holster. NPR describes how the simulation proceeds, led by trainer Bryan Patterson, who spent almost 27 years with the police in Fairfax County, Va. “We treat everybody like kings and queens,” he said. “We treat them with the utmost respect and dignity. But we also know that at any point in time I might have to use force against this person.” To Patterson, that means firing center mass, into the middle of the body, which he said has the greatest chance of incapacitating anyone who poses a threat.

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