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Outlaws Training Logs

It's still the same problem

Man, I don't want to keep beating a dead horse here, so I'll try to lay this out.

Our issue:

Should an individual officer have entered the school when called upon to attempt to engage an active shooter?

General Rule:
Police officers are trained and expected to defend the peace, including at the risk of their own life.

So let's break this down, in the past, it was fairly standard to encourage officers to await backup with an active shooter. It seemed inevitable that single officers would be rather ineffective in addressing the issue. However, after the Columbine shootings, it became standard practice to instead immediately engage and not await SWAT or back-up. The reasoning behind this, is simply, that an officer - does have the potential to scramble and impact a methodic shooter - working his way through, classroom to classroom, or room to room. This approach has been in place for the better part of twenty years now.

The next point to consider is the balancing of an officer's life versus the potential repercussions of not acting. It gets hazy here for obvious reasons, we don't know exactly how far into killing people the shooter is. But this has little justification in allowing further delay. It seems reasonable to believe in this case, a shooter given an extra 4 to 5 minutes, is going to shoot multiple people. Yet, it cannot be ignored that the officer has a high risk of injury or death in this scenario. But, as we look to our general rule, this is an accepted part of becoming a police officer. Police do not merely carry firearms to intimidate, they carry them to defend the public, themselves, and to kill if necessary. This is not a disputed fact.

The gravity of the commitment is not ignored, it carries a significant weight to consider in balancing the factors presented here. Unfortunately, for the officer in question, he was in an unenviable scenario. This officer was trained to shoot, maneuver, address hostile situations, and knew the building as well - if not better - than the shooter. By agreeing and accepting the role of an officer, the individual agreed to put his own life up to protect others. Here weighing those realities would overcome any justification for passing off the duty of the officer. It is not a scenario to compare to the expectations of a citizen. There a duty would not be owed, but here we have a police officer, he accepted his role, received the training, was equipped to impact a deadly scenario, and his inaction is hard to separate from a further loss of life due to that inaction.

In closing, we have an officer, not a civilian. Police officers accept the burden of the risk associated with their profession. They are fully aware that in certain instances that could come at the expense of their lives. Based upon this, the officer had a duty to act, and was negligent in not doing so. The officer should have entered the building as he was trained to do.


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