Ray Meyer [not shown] was a sergeant for the California Highway Patrol. The ex-cop emailed the Force Science Institute (FSI) a question that’s been rattling around my head for a while: why should cops get special treatment after a shooting? FSI’s run dozens of articles on how to protect cops’ legal rights and mental well-being after a shooting, from how not to interview them, to the officer’s need for not one but two night’s sleep before providing their sworn statement. Now that he’s retired, Ray wonders how he’d be treated if he’s involved in a DGU (Defensive Gun Use) . . .

We always treat the officer involved in an OIS [Officer Involved Shooting] as if it’s a good shooting. Assume a citizen involved in a shooting has a concealed firearms carry permit or was acting in self-defense on his own property and based on his initial statement and initial review of the evidence the shooting appears justified.

What would you do if the citizen says he’ll give you his firearm when he gets another one on and he tells you he will provide a full statement after he gets 2 sleep cycles and has his attorney present?

Do you give him a ride home to change clothes before taking him to the station for questioning and/or letting the press see him? Whatever you do for an OIS, would you do the same for a legally armed citizen? Is a team like an OIS team assigned, or are the on-call homicide detective and the standard CSI crew used? Should we care when a citizen with a concealed firearm carry permit is involved in a self-defense or threat-to-life shooting?

Over to you, Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute [above]. Dr. Bill reckons cops involved in OIS get worse treatment than civilians brought in after a DGU. And that ain’t right.

A legally armed civilian and a sworn peace officer are not comparable in the context of a shooting situation.

An officer is acting under the color of law and is generally performing his assigned role as society’s representative when a shooting occurs and will likely continue in that role in some format after the shooting – subsequently the replacement of a professional instrument that is a required tool of the job. Further, as part of his selection process, he has been assessed on the basis of background checks, mental health and fitness evaluations, and training. His job performance is supervised and evaluated. He has a track record that is known to his department. He operates under a special duty and special regulations.

A civilian or retired law enforcement officer, even if legally armed, is likely not acting under color of law and may be an unknown entity to the investigating agency. In both cases, the shooting must be thoroughly and fairly investigated. But where an on duty officer is involved, a more specialized investigation is likely to be appropriate.

Because of the probability that it will be involved in a civil lawsuit, the department has a particular interest in the nature of an OIS investigation, apart from concerns about criminal violations. There may be Garrity issues, union and policy matters, media and community perceptions, and training considerations that don’t apply to civilian actors.

Are officers really treated with the special sensitivity that Sgt. Meyer suggests?

They should be, because of their special status. But unfortunately, they still are not in many jurisdictions, given the same level of consideration of a citizen. To get rest, shower, change clothing and legal consultation prior to giving a statement, for example, all a civilian needs to do is invoke his Miranda rights. The citizen, if they choose, could come back sometime later with their attorney and give a formal statement. For officers on many agencies who feel they are trapped in a pressurized and coercive environment after a shooting, that would be a procedural improvement!

Really? Cops have union reps who instantly and immediately remora their brother or sister officer after an OIS. The officer’s mouthpiece knows the process and pitfalls that lie ahead (not to mention a warm personal relationship with the DA) inside-out, upside down and backwards and forwards.

Add in the “we take care of our own. us vs. them” cop shop culture and the chances that a law enforcement officer involved in an OIS will be railroaded are statistically insignificant.

In contrast, a civilian involved in a DGU faces the full weight of the police department, prosecutor’s office and any and all elected politicians anywhere within the state. Even if it’s a “good shoot,” the system will put them through hell, seeking every possible advantage. Mentally, physically, legally and emotionally. Yes, even in Texas.

In short, Bill, cry me a river. And talk to my lawyer.

46 Responses to Force Science Institute: Cops Deserve Better Post-Shooting Treatment Than Civilians

  1. Here is what I am thinking…

    I think yielding my weapon after a DGU is not the end of the world if the event was simply a mugging gone wrong (for the bad guy). Different story if I am being stalked or are otherwise a target.

    I would expect it back promptly, but if a $400 piece of iron saved my life, I will go and get another one, worst case scenario.

    The cops cannot fire me if I refuse to talk for two days in the presence of my attorney. Takeaway lesson here – Shut The F Up and hire an attorney – better yet, join an organization that helps defend DGU and let them airlift one for you.

    Cops can be jerks, cops can be cool. Your mileage may vary. STFU and wait for your day in court. You do not want to talk to a jerk anyway, and cool cops will not become bad cops because you won’t talk.

    • And that’s why I don’t see the sense in carrying anything spendier than an Walther for defense (and even that’s pushing the upper limit). Save the 1911s for the range, wear the plastic fantastic for your health.

  2. “Further, as part of his selection process, he has been assessed on the basis of background checks, mental health and fitness evaluations, and training. His job performance is supervised and evaluated.”

    Mumbo jumbo that would seem to make the added protections of additional sleep and mandatory attorney presence LESS necessary for police, not more.

    “Because of the probability that it will be involved in a civil lawsuit, the department has a particular interest in the nature of an OIS investigation, apart from concerns about criminal violations. ”

    The EXACT same could be said for why civilians should get these added benefits. Also, civilians don’t have the benefit of the qualified immunity doctrine, which shields police and police departments from most legal actions.

    “There may be Garrity issues, union and policy matters, media and community perceptions, and training considerations that don’t apply to civilian actors.”

    It’s a Union issue and in the interest of the police department, which doesn’t want to pay for icing some innocent person or account for some outrageous shooting. It’s the same reason cops try to arrest people for recording them in public – the less inconsistent evidence and the tighter the story, the less likelihood of a “bad” (read: just) outcome.

      • Maybe that Global Hawk that Montgomery Co, TX just got has something to do with that… Or the Darth Vader all black BDU’s , M-4’s, duty belts designed to hold pistol and AR mags, Colt marketing a select fire .308 M-4 to LEO’s, handcuffs on kindergarten kids, etc, etc, etc, etc.

        Yeah, yeah, I know, Hollywood shoot out. Exactly how many of those have we had? Better yet, without googling or wiki-ing(?), what year did that happen? We’ve lost more / severely injured LEO’s to ice than full out, open combat, that would necessitate a select fire .308, more than 1 AR mag, or plate carriers. Remember the Remington pump rifle that they marketed to LEO’s for about 15 seconds? How about Rugers little Police Carbines, another 15 seconds before an M-4 relpaced them both.

      • Add my +infinity too. I get riled when cops are presented as not civilians. That whole military thing they’re going for has gone to some heads.

  3. One obvious difference is the cops, and the military guys for that matter, carry a gun and sometimes use it in the course of their work. It’s part of their duty. They are obliged to do so.

    Not so with the civilian gun owner, he’s just playing around.

    • Also, cops are reactive; they clean up after someone has been robbed, stabbed, raped or murdered. We “ordinary” folks carry to prevent these things from happening to us.

      I know you are not so stupid you don’t understand this, Mike, so I have to assume you are merely trolling.

      • I don’t think cops are ONLY reactive. Do you?

        And I don’t think most concealed carry guys “carry to prevent these things from happening to us.” Haven’t we heard many guys say they’re not armed to do anything but protect themselves and their families?

        • Guess mikey here missed the “to us” part. Charles, you make a boldly optimistic claim about mikeb’s intelligence.

          But then, is it better to be merely stupid than to be a brainwashed, malicious, lying, destructive, oppressive closet-tyrant? Hmm…

        • I didn’t say cops are only reactive. I think their presence is a deterrent, but only where they’re present. Surely you can understand this.

          I still think your “ONLY” trolling, though.

        • You’re not the only one who thinks that…I think Mikey has taken the concept of trolling, reinvented it into a nefarious art form that convinces others he is a legitimate contributor to the issue

    • When you put on your seat belt, are you just playing around?
      When you lock your doors at night, are you just playing around?
      When you voice your opinion here are you JUST playing around?
      When you vote, are you just playing around?
      When you pursue life, liberty, and happiness, are you just playing around?

      You can attempt to marginalize this issue all you want, but when a gun owner uses his weapon to defend his or others’ lives, exercising his Natural Right, he is NOT playing around. He is deadly serious.

        • Mikey

          I was a fast and deadly SOB before I became a cop. I became fast and deadly because I could read and apply learned information, like most people do.

    • You’re missing an important point Mike. If the streets are dangerous enough that a cop needs a firearm for his protection (an possibly the protection of others) while he patrols them then certainly the streets are dangerous enough for a private citizen to need a firearm for their own protection while they live on those same streets.

      A police officer is no more special than a mother of two so why should he be able to defend himself while she cannot?

      You seem to be under the impression that an office is somehow a better person (faster, stronger, and smarter) then a private citizen, but they are not, they really are only human. Their training is laughable, and the selection process is little different than any other hiring process.

      For example, the state of Florida out-sources their police academy program to the local community colleges then they take an exam to earn a state certification. How is the graduate of a 60 hour program any more qualified to carry a pistol (much less a shotgun or automatic rifle) then a private citizen?

      And I speak from personal experience, I took that program. I knew more about firearms going into the weapons block then I did coming out. One of our instructors even managed to shoot himself while demonstrating the ‘proper’ way to ensure a firearm is unloaded. The idiot placed his hand at the front of the slide and applied pressure while he exercised poor trigger discipline. And he was a sworn officer with the Tampa Police Department.

      • And let’s take this line of reasoning to an obvious conclusion.

        How can you say, with a straight face, that a corrupt Mexican police officer has more of a right to carry an automatic rifle then a Mexican civilian (who cannot own even a pistol)? Why do the drug dealers get to own weapons as well as their purchased police protection?

      • I have seen cops who really were not in good physical shape and were a little slow. Some of them were rather poor with a fire arm. Some of these cops I have known very well and were actually friends. But still, they were just as human as the next guy.
        The truth be known, my Dad who was a combat vet was much better with weapons than most of the cops of the day.

      • Drew said “You seem to be under the impression that an office is somehow a better person”

        I don’t think I said anything like that. What’s wrong with you that you have to put words in my mouth and then argue against them as if I’d actually said them? Is that part of your intellectual honesty program?

        What I actually do say, and quite frequently, is that cops and civilian gun owners need to be better screened and better trained.

        I guess it’s harder to argue against something like that, isn’t it?

        • All of that and that’s what you choose to respond to? You’ve argued long and hard that civilians should not own firearms and now we only need to be ‘better screened’?

          Do you or do you not believe that only cops and military personnel should be armed? Yes or no.

        • Oh, and in response to your childish rant. I never quoted you directly so I did not ‘put words in your mouth’,

          By saying, “You seem to be under the impression” then I am saying this is how you are coming across.

        • He’s merely interpreting your comments through the lens of himself. He does what he accuses you of doing. That wouldn’t be as bad if he didn’t cry foul when he thinks others are using his tactics against him.

          However, you obviously did not stop so low as to act like a mikey

    • that and the military is subject to the UCMJ.

      In places that have restrictive firearm laws (NYC) it is my opinion that the police in those states have to leave all gear at the station whenever they are not on duty. If its safe enough for the average citizen to go without a firearm then its safe enough for an off duty police officer.

  4. Cops deserve worse post-shooting treatment than citizens. If a cop is shot, it (not he/she) should receive half the pain relief dose that anyone else would. Same goes for usurers, bankers, and alphabet soup agents.

    • Alright now this is a great example of a troll post. Even a little possible anti-semitism thrown in for good measure.

      • I mean every word of it. Making those careers less appealing ensures greater freedom for the rest of us. How is freedom “anti-semitic” ?

        • Jews have been involved in banking for a long time, because medieval and renaissance Christians often wouldn’t allow them access to other professions. Thus the accusation of usury has long been associated with antisemitism.

  5. As a reader of Massad Ayoob’s columns on self defense, I find that in many of his self defense articles police are at the same risk of being roasted by the media and the DA just as often as a civilian when it comes to dropping a bad guy in self defense.

    If a Caucasian officer shoots a black man trying to kill him ill agree that he’ll need all the legal help he can get to stay out of jail, as there are many sad cases of policemen who did their jobs and would up being treated WORSE than criminals for the sake of political expediency. See the cases of Rodney King and Luis Alvaraez for examples of officers being sold down the river by their own superiors.

    A civilian in this respect is better off than a cop, as an armed civilian need only shut his mouth and let the evidence do the talking.If the heat gets crazy politically a civilian can pack up and leave to a quieter locale. An officer has to go back to work in the same department that may be trying to destroy him or her in the same city that may be calling for their head on a plate, which is a psychological burden a civilian does not experience after a DGU.

    • See the cases of Rodney King and Luis Alvaraez for examples of officers being sold down the river by their own superiors

      The Rodney King cops were “sold out” by a camera that had pictures of the bastards beating the sh!t out of Rodney King.

      Luis Alvarez was prosecuted because he freaked out and killed the proverbial Black Man With a Gun. The second officer involved testified that he never saw Nevell Johnson, and unsavory character for sure, actually reaching for his .22. He couldn’t. The gun was found still tucked in Johnson’s waistband.

      An all-white jury acquitted Alvarez, who was very well defended by Roy Black, one of the most able criminal defense lawyers around. And Mas
      Ayoob was an important defense witness. And the City of Miami paid $1.5 million to the family of Nevell Johnson.

      There’s a great account of the trial at http://www.royblack.com/files/Alvarez.pdf

      • The eponymous “video” of the officers beating Rodney King was cut for maximum emotional impact.

        There’s a reason the tape starts with several officers standing over a prostrate King.

        That reason is due to the amount of cocaine in Mr. King’s system , which played a role in the man resisting the cops so violently they felt that any move he made had to answered with force.

        Rodney King led officers on a long pursuit before resisting arrest to the point that some serious backup was needed to bring him in.

        Notice even in the cut video segment the cops are keeping their distance, which is NOT consistent with someone out to deliberately punch someone’s lights out on a racially motivated vendetta. I invite you to research the incident yourself.

  6. Once you start giving special power and “special status” to law enforcement, you better be prepared for a slippery slope.

  7. The simplest solution to the obvious problems presented is enactment and enforcement of federal laws banning possession of any firearm by any person not specifically approved by government.
    Thereafter, in any circumstance in which an agent of government or other approved person encounters another person with gun, the agent or approved person can reasonably assume the person with the gun to not be an agent or approved person, but a criminal intent on killing.
    In fear of his or her life and the lives of others, in the interest of public safety and governmental interest in saving the taxpayers costs of medical treatment and incarceration, the agent is therefore obligated to kill the offending person.
    Note: Should an incident occur in which one agent or approved person kills another agent or approved person, it can be assumed that the incident was a result of a failure on the part of the person killed to not properly, correctly and / or in a timely manner identify themselves as an agent or approved person.
    Case closed.

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