“Police use of force is a topic KHOU 11 News has been exploring this week,” the Houston news org reminds readers, “starting with our story on Wednesday with activist Quanell X running through ‘shoot don’t shoot’ training.” In that report, Mr. X had a DIDT (Damn! I did that?) moment, emerging with newfound respect for armed self-defense. HPD PR department clocked that one and took the lesson on the road . . .
The Houston police chief and Harris County district attorney hosted a town hall meeting Saturday at Texas Southern University, where citizens could raise any concerns about police and get a first-hand look at the dangers officers face.
On Saturday, any citizen who wanted to received that same chance, opening another door in communication with police . . .
“They want us to be accountable, they want us to be open and transparent,” said Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.
In one effort at transparency, citizens got to run through police “shoot or don’t shoot” training with a video simulator.
Darryl Martin quickly found himself in a shootout with the suspect on screen.
“When I saw him react like this here, then I just automatically start shooting,” said Martin.
One of the HPD officers conducting the simulation asked, “What if he was pulling out a wallet?”
“It looks like I would have shot a person without even giving him a chance,” said Martin. “You got to be careful.”
Community advocate Lou Weaver shot down a man charging with a knife in another video simulation.
“He get there pretty quick?” HPD Senior Police Officer Terry Bratton asked Weaver.
“Seemed to be; quicker than I wanted him to,” Weaver answered.
“It really helps heighten our awareness of what’s on the line for them,” said Weaver.
Then I took a turn. In a simulation, a gunman shot another man inside a business. The gunman then turned to aim at me, and I shot him down.
But it didn’t end there. His girlfriend started crying then pulled out a knife. Quickly, I had to talk her into putting it down.
“You did a good job of verbal commands and your reaction time was very good,” said Bratton.
But it’s clear how easy it can be for an officer to second guess.
When she started crying, then I thought for a second, “Oh my gosh, did I shoot a good person accidentally?'” The scariest thought is did you shoot the wrong person?
Those split-second calls are reality for police, with no second chances.
“When a police officer makes a mistake, the mistake can be catastrophic, but still not unlawful,” said McClelland.
Wait. What? Anyway, putting people into a “shoot, no shoot” sim looks to be a game changer – and not just when it comes to respect for the police. It could be a way to get gun control advocates to see that a gun can be an effective method of self-defense.
OK, not antis. They’d just say, “this could never happen! LALALALALA! I can’t HEAR you!” But fence straddlers? To quote Marge, you betcha! So who’s gonna take up the challenge of an armed self-defense road show?