Officer Involved is a documentary about the effect of officer involved shootings on the police. While the film didn’t have a theatrical release, it’s making the rounds at police departments. One wonders where else it might be screened . . . black churches? Public schools? Not likely, but definitely recommended. The following look at the film is republished with permission from forcescience.org:

 Couple’s commitment to tell the truth about OISs yields powerful new film

These days, when police too often are depicted as heartless killers, the world needs a film like Officer Involved.

This one-hour and 43-minute documentary reveals the reality of the law enforcement psyche through the moving experiences of officers who have faced the moment and the aftermath of shooting a civilian.

Some still tear up when speaking years later about their taking of a life, though they are far from being broken human beings. All talk candidly. Their observations can impact the thinking of other officers who have used–or have yet to use–deadly force, of administrators whose departments might be beset with the fallout from an OIS, and of citizens who may inevitably question LEO motives in light of the anti-police narratives persistently spun by activist partisans.

Officer Involved is the remarkable product of the passionate commitment of a young officer and his wife who learned the craft of filmmaking specifically to create this motion picture.

It premiered at the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Assn. (ILEETA) earlier this year. Now it’s on a cross-country screening tour that could include your agency. (More on that in a moment.)

LONG ROADS

We first reported on this project more than a year ago after Patrick Shaver, a patrol officer with a large metropolitan department in Georgia, and his wife Carla filmed interviews with Force Science Instructor Dr. Alexis Artwohl and with Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute (see Force Science News #276, 2/24/15 in the newsletter archives at www.forcescience.org).

At that point, they were over a year into their research, conducted largely on vacation and comp time and funded primarily from their own pockets, with some contributions from friends and strangers. This herculean effort eventually involved more than 90 interviews with OIS survivors and human behavior experts and thousands of highway miles, Patrick Shaver says.

Now they’re back on the road, living out of a camper with their seven-month-old son and driving from site to site across the US for invitational screenings. Carla has quit her job and Patrick has taken a year’s leave of absence from his department to devote full time to Officer Involved. Their hope is to get the movie accepted into film festivals and eventually into general theatrical release.

MOST STRESSFUL THING

The film opens with an officer’s voice-over: “I used to think the easiest thing to do was to make a deadly force decision. ‘He tries to kill me, so I kill him.’ It’s not that simple.” And of all the complexities, experts are inclined to agree, by far the most stressful thing is the aftermath.

Thus launched, in Patrick Shaver’s words, the film takes “the tunnel to the heart of the question: what’s it like to be an officer involved.”

CHALLENGES

In a seamless flow, the film offers intimate accounts from those who’ve “been there” about the arc of post-shooting challenges, including among others:

• Family reactions – One chief recalls that all he wanted when he first arrived home after killing a suspect was a reassuring hug from his wife. But her reaction was stone-cold stoicism. “It caused a lot of problems between us,” he says. Another survivor asks plaintively: “How do you tell your kids that Daddy shot someone?”

• Insomnia – Several survivors talk about sleeplessness, with one having tossed and turned across five weeks before he got a decent night’s sleep. Says another: “You just wouldn’t believe how many times your mind replays it and replays it and replays it. And it literally jolts you every time.”

• Media – The media take a major drubbing for “exaggerated or completely false” reporting. After one officer shot a woman, the media reported that she was holding a puppy at the time (“not true”), with no mention of the gun she had. On social media, “facts” may morph into fantastical scenarios that are nowhere close to what actually happened.

• Departmental issues – Some officers talk about ways in which their departments supported them after the smoke cleared, but for others the story was much different. One officer explains that he consciously decided he would let an offender get off the first round in their confrontation because he was “terrified at the possible repercussions.” Justifiably, it seems; his chief walked up to him at the scene and said, “You are one of the most cursed individuals I have ever met. You are a shit magnet.”

• Survivor guilt – One officer breaks down crying when he talks about a shooting in which his partner was killed. He didn’t know how to process the guilt he felt at still being alive. “My daughter had a father, his daughters didn’t,” he says. Another says he will “never understand” why a young woman put him in a position that forced him to shoot her. “I wanted to help her. When I first got there, I envisioned sitting and talking to her. Not a day goes by that I don’t see her face and wish she had let me help her.”

• Liability – One officer describes shooting an unarmed black teenager whom he mistakenly thought was drawing a gun from his waistband. Riots, fires, looting, “total chaos” ensued and “I felt responsible for everything taking place, the weight of all that on me.” After a month in limbo, he learned he’d been indicted for negligent homicide by watching tv. At trial, prosecutors portrayed him as a thoroughly reckless individual, yet he was found not guilty. He fully understands the fear of civil and/or criminal liability that haunts shooting survivors.

• Re-entry – Coming back to work for some is a continuation of pain. One officer recalls being greeted as he walked into the station with a jaunty, “Hey, Killer!” But for others, returning to the job is a triumph. An officer who’d been wounded in a shooting drove his patrol car to the exact location where he’d been shot, picked up his mic, and announced, “I’m on duty.” “Welcome back,” the dispatcher radioed back…and one by one fellow officers on patrol echoed the same greeting.

• Resolution – Long term, says Dr. David Klinger, a prominent researcher and CJ professor, “most police officers are resilient. They triumph in a shooting and then they integrate it into their life experience and they move forward.” Artwohl agrees: “Usually the brain begins to accept it and you think about it less and less. Eventually, like any other exciting or stressful memory, it doesn’t have that same sense of intensity.”

PUBLIC DISCONNECT

One of the academic experts the Shavers integrate into Officer Involved, Dr. Matthew Sharps, a forensic cognitive scientist with Fresno (CA) State University, points out that “Most people have a vastly different view of police work than is accurate.” His research shows just how colossal the public disconnect is regarding use of deadly force specifically.

Sharps surveyed LEOs and civilians on whether a suspect pointing a gun directly at a police officer constitutes a “must shoot” situation. The cops all agreed that it did. But only 11% of civilians thought so.

When Sharps asked civilians their views on when an officer should shoot, he got “amazing feedback.” Such as: “An officer should not shoot unless he knows exactly what the suspect is thinking”; if the suspect is threatening another person, the officer has to convince the suspect to drop the gun; an officer should shoot “only if he is certain [the suspect has] a real gun”; an officer should only shoot an offender’s arm or leg to take him down, “not to kill”; and so on.

In one of several appearances in the film, Dr. Lewinski debunks the myth that intentional limb-targeting is a practical means of stopping threatening suspects and explains the “eye-blink speed” at which attacks on LEOs are likely to occur, often a pivotal factor in officer decision-making and reaction.

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33 Responses to Officer Involved Documentary Revealed

  1. “Bill Lewinski”

    And… into the trash it goes. TTAG better be getting paid to quote this discredited diploma mill hack.

      • Mad at the facts, as usual. Are you saying Bill Lewinski actually matriculated from an accredited institution, and hasn’t been rejected by numerous peer-reviewed journals for a total lack of respect for scientific methods?

    • It’s entirely possible that Making a Farce of Science Institute might say something worthwhile. But at any given moment I wouldn’t count on it.

    • Maybe you should go to his next hearing and remind the jury how discredited he is. You know, so they can laugh you out of the courtroom and accquit the cop like they do over and over and over and over and over…

      Be sure to remind them about those leg shots, while you’re at it.

      • Oh look, the video editing hack is defending the psychology hack. Cute. 🙂

        No need for me to discredit his BS, actual tenured psychology professors and journal editors have already discredited his garbage. And there is a reason Lewinski loves testifying in grand jury hearings, because he knows he won’t be challenged by opposing attorneys.

        This is what to expect from someone with a degree from “Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities” on a self-defined curriculum.

  2. We ask these people to deal with issues we don’t want to handle. And they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t for doing what we ask of them. They are absolutely essential to a modern 1st world country and yet we don’t want to see them unless we are in urgent need.

    Modern society is very schizo.

    • We ask them to? That’s weird, how does that work, they go door-to-door asking people to join the police dept? I was always under the impression it was a voluntary move, that thousands of people each year of their own free will and volition submit applications to police academies and law enforcement agencies, take tests, and compete against all the other volunteer applicants to get a job they WANT… right? I’ve never been asked to carry a badge and gun. Have you?

      As for neccesity… are they really? An organized police force is a fairly new concept as far as the world in concerned. They basically didn’t exist until the middle of the 19th century, and even then only in a few major metropolitan areas. Somehow humanity managed to make it 20,000 years or so before that without police….

        • “Modern history, the modern period or the modern era, is the global historiographical approach to the timeframe after the post-classical era in European history (known as the Middle Ages).[1][2] Modern history can be further broken down into periods:
          The early modern period began approximately in the early 16th century; notable historical milestones included the European Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.[3][4]
          The late modern period began approximately in the mid-18th century; notable historical milestones included the Seven Years’ War, French Revolution, the First Industrial Revolutions, and the Great Divergence. It took all of human history up to 1804 for the world’s population to reach 1 billion; the next billion came just over a century later, in 1927.[5]”

          [1] “Intrinsic to the English language, “modern” denotes (in reference to history) a period that is opposed to either ancient or medieval—modern history comprising the history of the world since the close of the Middle Ages.”
          [2] “The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia”.
          [3] Dunan, Marcel. Larousse Encyclopedia of Modern History, From 1500 to the Present Day. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.
          [4] “Bartleby.com: Great Books Online — Quotes, Poems, Novels, Classics and hundreds more”.
          [5] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world-july-dec11-population1_10-27/

      • “Somehow humanity managed to make it 20,000 years or so before that without police….”

        Yeah, but what you have to realize is that back then, you knew *everyone* in your immediate vicinity, your family, tribe, or whatever.

        Nowadays, you are fairly anonymous to those you live near, you haven’t known them and they haven’t known you your entire life…

        • Organized police didnt exist until the mid 19th Century. You’re telling me everyone in London knew all 3 million other inhabitants? Ditto with New York and it’s 1 or 2 million??

        • So in London and New York before the mid to late 19th century there was no one keeping law and order? No town watch or King’s men at arms insuring order? No gallows?

          Every society past the cave dwellers have had someone keeping order. Because they weren’t called police doesn’t change that.

          Now. Right now. Show me a first world nation that doesn’t have cops. Or for that matter any nation now that doesn’t have some form of police.

      • “An organized police force is a fairly new concept as far as the world in concerned.”

        Bring it in and take a knee. It’s time for a history lesson.

        An organized police force is not nearly as new as RocketScientist claims. Such a system existed over 2000 years ago in Rome.

        Ancient Rome had paramilitary police in the form of the Cohortes Urbanae who augmented the Vigiles and were a political counterbalance to the Praetoriani.

        Originally the Vigiles were the city’s firemen and the force was designed after the Egyptian “fire department” in Alexandria. In 27BC Augustus added policing to their duties and added three cohorts (unit strength 800 men per cohort) to their strength for this purpose. At this point the Vigiles took on the added duty of chasing after petty criminals and escaped slaves and the Cohortes Urbanae (the three added cohorts) were formed to deal with more serious crimes like murder, rape, sedition and organized criminal enterprises (gangs). These duties had previously fallen to the Praetoriani (Praetorian Guard) but they had grown to be politically unpopular in Rome three decades before the birth of Christ. However, the Guard did police the city to a great extent before the establishment of cohorts.

        The Cohortes Urbanae were organized into cohorts and centuries just like the legions, wielded significant power within the city as a paramilitary police force. Both the fire and the police force were commanded by the same person, the Prefect of the Watch/Vigil who was appointed by the Emperor to oversee and command the seven cohorts within the city of Rome.

        The members of the cohorts were considered a special type of reserve soldier and were paid more than the Vigiles but less than the Praetoriani.

        So yeah, police departments didn’t just materialize in the 19th century as you claim. Augustus hired 2400 on them in 27BC.

      • Yes, yes lets go back to the “night watch” of the 1600 or later the “day watch” — The night watch was not a particularly effective crime control device. Watchmen often slept or drank on duty. It was a way to avoid military service. Yep, that is who I want to patrol my streets. Yep, an all volunteer group that most of the time never showed up for work.

        Maybe we should go back to the “for profit” constables — yes, another lot that if you paid them enough, you could get away with ANY crime you wanted. Since they were paid for warrants, you simply paid them more than the warrant on your head. I am sure that worked fine. Oh, you don’t have enough money, no worries, the constable would have his way with your wife or daughter for the evening and the warrant would be forgotten. I am sure you would love that too.

        Or, perhaps you are thinking of going back to the southern style of policing — called “Slave Patrol” while part of their duty was to find run away slaves, the other part of their duty was graft and busting heads for whomever paid them. That would work great!

        It was 1830s that the idea of a centralized municipal police department first emerged in the United States. In 1838, the city of Boston established the first American police force, followed by New York City in 1845, Albany, NY and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark, NJ and Baltimore in 1857 By the 1880s all major U.S. cities had municipal police forces in place.

        Why?

        Because as the population increased so did crime and vice. Mobs started to form and since the “watchman” and “Constables” where basically corrupt and paid piece meal and had no reporting structure, they were absolutely ineffective. While history shows that there was no real crime wave per se, there was massive disorder with various merchants or well to do people basically having their own private police force that at times knocked heads with each other. There was ZERO uniformity. This police owner would charge a different fine for the same offense as this other person. In a word, it was Chaos.

        Would you rather have those circumstances again?

        I rather fix the issues we have today by starting with stop making the police the solution for everything and stop making new laws just because someone screams “we must do something”. The police are asked to do way too much.

        Let us start by ending the drug war and then the commercial based prison system.

        Your idea is not workable nor is anarchy which what you want.

      • So, you are either advocating for Anarchy or for the Military to take over security functions inside our towns.

    • It’s not all that different than most of modern life for the majority of people living it:
      Grow food?
      Hunt for food?
      Build your own dwelling?
      Even maintain your own dwelling?
      Repair your own car?
      Provide for your own self defense?

      This crowd is probably non-representative of the general population. But, for the most part, most of us, even those who are gainfully employed, don’t actually do much. We lose sight of the reality involved in the mechanics of living and lose respect for those who do our dirty work for us. We don’t understand how hard it is, we resent how much it costs us and we lose patience when it’s not done perfectly. Police work especially so.

      Specialization is great. Right up until is isn’t.

      • All of that was around before modern policing and the Peelian Principles that
        No police department follows.

      • “Specialization is great.”

        I prefer this version:

        “Specialization is for insects.”

        –Robert Heinlein

    • To make my point clear.

      How many cops are wrongfully killed by each year vs how many citizens are wrongfully killed by cops?

  3. ” On social media, “facts” may morph into fantastical scenarios that are nowhere close to what actually happened.”

    And now ISIS Lite has teamed up with cop bashing morons to make sure every halfwitted myth about use of force gets spread far and wide. The things you are supposedly allowed to do without getting shot now includes things like dragging a cop with your car and walking towards a cop with a knife.

    The reason more cops don’t get killed more often is they all have guns. It’s proof of our theory, right there, staring us in the face.

    • And in the minds of the pigsters, facts are morphed and bent during their 48 hour “cooling off period” (which no civilian has) so they can collaborate on a made-up story to justify their criminality. They can repeat this story because police perjury has been legalized at the federal level.

      You rant about “social media”, which holds absolutely no legal weight, and yet cops are legally given two days to make up a story after they kill someone, which will then be given the same weight as any contradictory civilian testimony. Except if the civilian is caught lying, he goes to jail.

      • A citizen may retain council and refuse to answer questions, as per the constitution. You’re making stuff up again.

        • Are you really confusing the Constitutional right against self-incrimination with the relatively new “right” for the police to perjure oneself without penalty? Good one.

          Next you will say that the “police bill of rights” privileges don’t exist and the cops follow the same laws as regular civilians. 🙂

      • So what you’re saying is, every OIS is a lie, and there are NO instances where a LEO had to defend himself from a suspect who was trying to kill him/her? You are either very naive, or a liar.

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