Law enforcement’s deadly free pass must end

Two recent killings underscore need for rigorous, transparent training

The author is 77 years old and a Chico resident since 1980.

Would you allow a person who had only one year of medical training to perform major “life or death” surgery on you? I think not. Most surgeons train for up to six to eight years before they are considered fully skilled with a scalpel. And the requirements and screening to even enter that training is extensive.

I wish someone would explain to me why a person with only a year of training in law enforcement is then given a badge and a gun and the instant ability to take another person’s life.

All one has to do is peruse the daily headlines from across our nation to realize that it is not uncommon for an innocent person to be killed by law enforcement personnel.

The “us versus them” attitude is so deep within law enforcement that it affects all of the training a student receives in academies. “Never take a risk that might mean you won’t go home tonight” is a mantra that can lead to an embedded approach of “shoot first and ask questions later.”

Two recent stories from Texas: In Dallas, a female officer enters the wrong apartment and ultimately shoots and kills the man inside. In Fort Worth, a male officer outside a home shoots through a window and kills a woman playing a video game with her 8-year-old nephew.

In both instances, the officers perceived a threat that was not real.

A surgeon is expected to be both skilled and responsible with a scalpel after years of training. Why can’t we expect our law enforcement personnel to be skilled and responsible?

It is all about training. The training curriculum must be lengthened, standardized, responsible and transparent. That is not asking too much.

For too long, law enforcement in our nation has been given a free pass, without consequences. Spare me the argument about how dangerous their job might be. Firefighters put their lives on the line every day. Even one innocent person killed by law enforcement is one too many.