The 911 call: A cry for help or a warning signal?
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The New York Times recently highlighted the dangers law enforcement officers every day on the job. The article begins with the story of an officer shot and killed in the line of duty in 1964. He was answering a 911 call on an attempted burglary.
It should have been a routine procedure where he gets to apprehend the offenders. Instead, he did not live to see another day.
Fast-forward to today, and we have too many such tales to recount.
Earlier this month, two officers in Iowa were ambushed while sitting in their patrol cars, and an NYPD officer was shot and killed as he approached a home invasion suspect in the Bronx. These along with the deadly sniper attacks on law enforcement officers this summer in Dallas and Baton Rouge show day-to-day police work has become too dangerous.
The death of Peach County, Georgia, sheriff's deputy Patrick Sondron is the latest in the series of bloody shootings that have taken place in 2016. Sondron and his partner Del Smallwood, who was critically wounded, were simply answering a 911 call about a disturbance in a neighborhood.
The gunman was angry with his neighbors riding around in four-wheelers and threatened to shoot them. The neighbors called 911 — a call that turned out to be fatal, not for the culprit but for the officers who responded to it. Both deputies had just walked a few steps toward the suspect and had yet to draw their weapons when they were shot.
When the neighbors heard the shooting and saw the policemen fall, they rushed back in to make another 911 call. The details in the second call prepared the next batch of responding officers better.
One of them used a ballistic shield for protection to approach the house, while the other officer used the patrol car as a shield. They were not taken by surprise when the suspect started shooting this time. He was eventually hit in the abdomen, and the officers were able to subdue and take him into custody.
In an era of racial discrimination and use of excessive force, the growing distrust of the police has grown to gigantic proportions. The advent of social media has completely changed the game. Everyone can report, comment on or amplify any single incident via social media. So much so that protests and riots against the police have broken out in parts of the country.
More than anything, officers have become easy targets. Shootings and ambush attacks on officers are dominating headlines.
There is an intense debate going on over the state of criminal justice system in America, and rightly so. What is wrong must be corrected. If some officers have misused their power or used excessive force, they need to be questioned and have actions taken against them.
But that does not condemn the entire force. Unfortunately, many fail to understand the difference, and we see this rising hatred and increasing incidents of violence against law enforcement.
Steps need to be taken to stem this blood flow. A better communication system needs to be established between the police and public. Else, the 911 call may very well be a signal of threat for officers instead of a conduit for public protection and help.
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