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THE TACTICAL TANGENTS BULLETIN

PUBLIC RELATIONS: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

There was a recent Deputy-involved shooting in Arizona in which the suspect was killed and the deputy was wounded. A pro-LE media outlet published an article that said the Deputy, “…returned fire and permanently relieved the suspect of his duty to appear in court.” Alright kids, gather ‘round, because we need to have a quick chat around the campfire on this one… You understand this is the kind of crap our haters use against us, right? I’m far from politically “correct” (whatever that means), but this isn’t helping. 

In casual conversation among my friends, I’ll be among the first to drop a “stupid games, stupid prizes” line. “Big Gulps huh? Welp, see ya later!” But that is among friends, where we have a common understanding—or at least the avenue to establish one—in context and face-to-face. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a significant and even growing population of people who think that cops are a bit twitchy, if not calloused and trigger-happy. And in some cases, they aren’t wrong. This isn’t one of those cases—the Deputy was shot by the suspect, returned fire, and rightfully killed the guy. But if you stop right there, you are missing the point. Think before you speak, especially in a public forum. 

Every bad guy—and good guy for that matter—has a story. That story is intertwined with the stories of their friends, family, the good times in their lives, and the bad. They include not only the mistakes and poor life choices they have made, but also the times they might have brought some tiny bit of joy to someone else’s life. Most bad guys, maybe even the worst, have some little twinkle of good in there somewhere. We might not be able to find it! But it’s probably there. That doesn’t mean I’m taking their side—on this case or any other—but it is important to consider that when a person gets killed, right or wrong, it will negatively impact someone, somewhere. This isn’t about facts, it’s about perception.

As police officers or members of the Armed Forces, we have to be mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to kill—because the nature of our profession requires that we accept the humble responsibility of serving innocent people and protecting the ideals of our American way of life, and that means defending them from the forces of evil. And because of that responsibility, we should have no qualms nor be expected to accept any unnecessary risk for the benefit of those who would jeopardize our own safety because of whatever bad day they are having or series of poor life choices they have made. But finding peace with that responsibility, and conveying that to others, should never come at the expense of someone else’s tragedy. We are better than that. Act like it. 

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