Shoot-first mentality must end

A higher standard for our Friends in Blue is needed to stop them from killing people without just cause

The author has been a Chico resident since 1980.

A law enforcement officer is killed in a violent incident and our Friends in Blue act as if the most precious fragment of our society’s fabric has been torn asunder.

An innocent civilian is killed by a law enforcement officer without valid justification and those same Friends in Blue say, “Oops, accidents happen.”

Our nation must begin saying, “No more.” Minneapolis must be the last.

I find it interesting that in the cities that are pushing back against unsustainable police shootings of civilians, the mayors of those cities often are women. And departments where the chief of police is a woman seem to be more aggressive in developing alternatives to capital punishment when dealing with mentally ill individuals and homeless people.

The recent incident in Minneapolis, where a 40-year-old spiritual healer and life coach was shot dead by a police officer while talking to them in an alley behind her home, may be the turning point that many of us are waiting for.

It must begin with training. A cardiac surgeon may expect to go through as much as 15 years of education and training before starting an independent practice. A law enforcement officer may be assigned a gun and a badge with only a high school degree and six months of training. At that point, the officer can draw a weapon, shoot and kill another person faster than a surgeon can make an incision.

My personal interpretation of current law enforcement policy regarding lethal force is that the de facto rule is, “Shoot first if you even slightly perceive a threat from another. Ask questions later.”

Training and leadership are the most crucial variables in protecting the citizenry from incidents like the death of Justine Damond. There must be minimum national training standards for law enforcement such that agencies not meeting the standard may not receive any federal funding or support.

Lastly, potential law enforcement officers must receive extensive mental health evaluations before they ever receive a badge and gun. It’s not brain surgery.