Recent fatal attacks by police against unarmed citizens -- in particular African-American males -- have been portrayed as insensitive, illegal, and unnecessary violence by cable news programs over the past few years. And those televised reports (shown over and over) have caused angry citizens to participate in large demonstrations in American city streets. Fairly or unfairly, these incidents have caused citizens to turn against police departments -- albeit most police departments do not train their officers to shoot unarmed suspects. Because everyone with a smart phone can take video of police actions, and share videos with news organizations, this has become a negative for law enforcement. In response to these incidents, some police departments are offering rewards to officers that show restraint in the line of duty. This paper presents examples of those strategies by police departments.
The Philadelphia & Los Angeles Police Departments
In Philadelphia, the police department rewards officers for " . . . showing restraint in the line of duty, putting the tactic on par with bravery" (Associated Press 2016). In fact, more than 40 officers in the Philadelphia Police Department have been awarded for "defusing conflicts without shooting, clubbing, or otherwise using maximum force against anyone" (AP page 2). Also, in Los Angeles, the police department has created a "Preservation of Life Award."
These departments are responding to a need to de-escalate potentially volatile situations, following the deadly shootings (by police) of unarmed African-American males in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; Chicago; and in North Charleston, South Carolina (AP p. 2). Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, "This is an effort to slow down situations for the sake of everybody concerned (AP 2).
Certainly, by training cops to de-escalate potentially violence situations, public trust should be enhanced -- at least that is the argument by law enforcement advocates. Officer Eric Tyler is an example of Philadelphia's reward program. He was recognized for using a "stun gun instead of a firearm on a suspect who threatened to shoot Tyler's colleague" in February, 2016 (AP p. 2). Tyler, who had never shot anyone in his 12 years on the force, said he thought about using his weapon, then, in a split-second decision, he used his stun gun instead.
On the other side of the coin, in Los Angeles, the police union called the award ("Preservation of Life Award") "a terrible idea…
"Police Department Rewards For Defusing Violent Situations" (2017, February 22) Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.paperdue.com/essay/police-department-rewards-for-defusing-violent-situations-essay-2168030
"Police Department Rewards For Defusing Violent Situations" 22 February 2017. Web.19 April. 2019. < https://www.paperdue.com/essay/police-department-rewards-for-defusing-violent-situations-essay-2168030>
"Police Department Rewards For Defusing Violent Situations", 22 February 2017, Accessed.19 April. 2019, https://www.paperdue.com/essay/police-department-rewards-for-defusing-violent-situations-essay-2168030