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  • Clarke Wallace

FIXING THE UNFIXABLE

The thought hits us right where it hurts: Hearing about one-year-old boy killed by a gunshot while in the back seat of his father’s car. His dad was waving a handgun when three police officers opened fire.


Talk first, yes? Talk the guy down. Patience needed. Not ‘fire first, ask questions after’.


Police officers are expected to keep their weapons holstered unless things fall apart. Maybe it’s bad judgment that gets in the way. If police officers need help adjusting to the mental attitude of the job, they only have to.


Some 16 countries worldwide are behind it, among them the UK, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Most British coppers don’t wear sidearms. As it is, eighty-two percent of them don’t want to be armed.


Many of Ireland’s constables don’t know how to use a gun, with only 20 to 25 percent qualified to use firearms.


How did Norwegian constables in Oslo handle it when a man drove off in a stolen ambulance while firing at them. The officers fired back, not at him, at the tires stopping him from getting away.


Pressure to change the United States model of policing started with members of Minneapolis City Council . It began with what they labeled ‘police consent’ where ‘police will police by consent, rather than by ‘threat of force’.


The U.S. could learn more about police forces in Europe who emphasize the importance of extensive training. Take Norway. Prospective officers receive more extensive training than in the United States. Norwegian students who want the job must complete a three-year bachelors degree. Whereas in the

U. S. officers spend 21 weeks of training modeled on a military bootcamp.


Paul Hirschfield at Rutgers University tells us, “If our [U.S.] officers were trained as extensively as police in Norway, they’d be less reliant on [using] deadly force.”


Author’s comments: Police officers in both Norway and Finland among others, work in tandem with medical professionals, Especially psychiatric specialists that accompany officers dealing with those who exhibit signs of mental illness. In contrast, funding for psychiatric services in the U.S. has been cut in recent years. What a pity.

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