January 12, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) The Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office, which is headed up by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, recently took a civil rights activist (a pastor), gave him a crash course in the use of force, handed him a simulated weapon, and placed him in scenarios in which the activist could shoot or not shoot.
In one scenario, the activist was killed. In the second, he shot a man charging towards him. In the third, he disarmed a man without killing him. This exercise is being offered as proof that cops should be allowed to kill whomever they want and that activists don’t understand the dangers of being a cop.
In their attempt to justify the use of lethal force, Maricopa County demonstrated the method in which their officers are apparently trained. Using pepper-spray, a taser, or a baton is apparently not an option. The reality is that Maricopa probably does train their officers in the use of non-lethal devices. Those devices just weren’t available to the person in the scenario. They weren’t even on his belt.
The local Fox affiliate also glosses over the fact that the civil rights activist is not a cop. His training was limited to the crash course that was provided to him by the office that had a vested interest in him failing the scenarios and had a news crew standing by to broadcast the failure. Let’s also not forget that the whole purpose behind these scenarios is to place the officer in situations in which they must kill in order to psychologically prepare them for the event if it occurs.
At the end of the day, the activist had one bad encounter, one clean encounter, and a shooting that, while unnecessary, would have been cleared by the D.A. So a man with no real training accomplished about the same success rate as the supposedly highly-trained officers. Maybe the training needs to be reevaluated. Training that does not include the use of non-lethal devices is at the root of the problem.
Shoot/no-shoot training is designed to help officers make split second decisions when they have to. However, relying on this training as a tool to help officers determine when it is appropriate to shoot leaves scores of dead bodies on the ground, most of them unnecessary. When a department relies on this training, it places the officer in the position of believing the only options are to open fire or receive total compliance. Non-compliance is not grounds for lethal force.
The other issue that this little public relations stunt brings to light is that when lethal force is justified, the incident is over quickly and is extremely violent in nature. Nobody has a problem when officers use deadly force against someone who is attempting to use deadly force against them. The problems, protests, and riots occur when officers stand around for two hours after saying they are going to shoot a homeless man, then they brutally kill him. The problem arises when cops brutally beat a mentally-ill man for half an hour while he begs for his life and claim they were attempting to subdue him. The problem occurs when an officer tosses a grenade into a child’s crib when they don’t even have the right house.
This was an attempt to justify police brutality by only showing appropriate use of force situations. It would be a lot like attempting to justify forcible sodomy by showing a proctology exam.
So the PR stunt, while humorous, only shows that Maricopa’s officers are trained in the same ineffective manner as other departments. It also shows that local media is nothing more than a mouthpiece for government propaganda. At no time did the Fox affiliate question the government’s script.
Update: Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken his propaganda push even further. He has invited Reverend Al Sharpton to undergo the same faulty training and scenarios. I have a better idea, rather than constantly picking pastors with no prior law enforcement experience, I will happily supply Sheriff Arpaio with a list of police accountability activists that have prior military or law enforcement experience to undergo his rigorous training before being thrown into the scenarios. For some reason, I doubt he’ll want to place people that actually know what they’re doing in the scenarios.
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