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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 21, 2013 11:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Maybe they should do late-night infomercials. The next post in this blog is A good reason not to emulate San Francisco. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, February 21, 2013

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

As we reflect on the killing of yet another unarmed person by the Portland police, we wonder what makes them so afraid to hold their fire until they actually see a gun. Especially if they already have their own guns trained on the suspect. What's going on in their minds?

One reader suggests that maybe it has something to do with the targets the police practice on. Here are a few that would give us nightmares.

Comments (9)

Put the weapon complex with the Stanford Prison theory complex and you might have a working hypothesis.

I am definitely interested in the outcome of the L. Salanitro case.

Statistics of cases like these ending in a good/bad ending? in Tri-Met?, in Oregon?

Where's the diversity?

I think it's because the officers are 'self-referential"...they look at the perp and think, "Gee, what would _I_ do in this circumstance?"

Thus, they choose to shoot to kill because that's what they'd do in his place.

Those targets are for anybody--saying they are "law enforcement" is marketing. I imagine they are used in law enforcement as well as civilian shooting ranges.

A much better shooting practice facility is right down the road from you in Tualatin. You should go try it out and let your readers know how well you did at discerning between 'dangerous' targets and 'innocent' targets:
They have a variety of scenarios--some of the targets have guns, some don't.

The reason police don't/can't wait to see a gun is pretty straightforward. Humans can't and don't instantaneously react to anything. To react, we have to see something, process what we're seeing, make a decision, and then implement the decision. All of that involves neurons firing, muscles moving, and the like.

There have been lots of academic studies of the issue in the context of police shootings. Those studies show that if an officer waits to see a gun, or in the Adventist situation, waits to make a decision about whether something that looks like a gun really is a gun, the suspect will be able to fire multiple shots before the officer can react. It's simply physically impossible for the officer to react any quicker, and no amount of training can compensate for the delay caused by the reaction process.

It's for this reason that the standard in these situations isn't whether the person was armed an intent on killing someone else. Rather, it's whether an officer reasonably believes that the person is armed and poses an immediate threat of death to others. A standard that demands that officers actually see a gun will inevitably result in officers and bystanders being shot by a suspect.

The action/reaction thing, which is part of human system dynamics, isn't unique to police shootings. For example, it's also the reason people talking on cell phones get into more car accidents.

I for one would not head into 'Urban Street Violence' shirtless like that. I do not have a pectoral tattoo either though.

Huh. Judging by their record, I would have thought the targets would be facing away from the shooter.

How about these targets that teach officers not to hesitate? Is this diverse enough for you?


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