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March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in social issues, social sciences

Running head : Suicide-by-cop


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The line separating close calls from shootings is razor thin . Since police officers hold their fire in the face of all sorts of threatening actions , including gunfire directed at them . So when officers do shoot it is because something – the way armed individuals stand , the way they hold their weapons , the way they move , the words they speak , the look on their faces , some cue – tells them that this moment is different , that [banner_entry_middle]

it is for keeps , that they can ‘t hesitate , that they have to fire

In some instances , the decision to shoot is the end point of a deliberative process . In others , it is a split-second reaction that involves no conscious thought at all . Sometimes a shooting is the culmination of a protracted encounter during which officers had plenty of time to consider the possibility that they might need to shoot . Other times , officers are thrown into dangerous situations without warning and fire right away . And shootings happen in any sort of situation : burglary investigations disputes between family members , friends , or neighbors traffic stops noise complaints and even when officers are minding their own business off duty . Because shootings can (and do ) unfold in a variety of ways , during situations of every conceivable stripe , there is no such thing as a typical shooting scenario (H . Range Hutson , 1998

The same is true about the people officers shoot : there is no such thing as a typical police opponent . Although some of the people the police shoot are hardened criminals , many are folks who were not in serious trouble with the law before the incident that brought them to the attention of the police . Some souls are enraged about some real or imagined affront they have suffered , some are high on alcohol or other drugs (or both , some suffer from some type of long-standing emotional or mental problem , and some are suicidal . Indeed the most thorough research to date indicates that some 10 percent of the people struck by police gunfire in recent years were suicides who goaded officers into shooting them . This unorthodox form of self-destruction , commonly called suicide-by-cop in law enforcement circles , is sometimes chosen by troubled individuals who wish to end their lives but can ‘t do it by their own hand (David A . Klinger , 2001

A police suicide does not generate quite the same attention or emotion that a line-of-duty death might , but many of the same factors of identification and connection that make a line-of-duty death so personally meaningful apply equally to suicides

Like anyone who loses a friend or colleague to suicide , part of the cop ‘s struggle involves the need to make meaning and to find some reassurance in understanding why the death occurred . This need to attribute causality can never be fully satisfied , of course , since we can never really know why someone has taken his own life , but when identification or friendship is a… [banner_entry_footer]

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