Monday, September 29, 2008


As an officer begins their basic training, they become aware of how and when to use their firearm. By the completion of the academy, an officer will have enough repetition to be able to recognize a justified shooting. Many situations have occurred where people involved feel that the officer’s actions were not justified. Dallas Police Department recently had an officer involved shooting, in which the family members of the victim suspect, felt the shooting was unjustified. According to a news bulletin, posted on September 23, 2008, a Dallas Police Officer shot and killed a man whom was stopped after a traffic collision. Officials for the Police Department state the victim attacked the officer by continuously hitting him in the head with a closed fist. The Department continued by stating that the victim was 6’4” and 240 pounds.

The threat of serious bodily injury to the officer may have justified using his firearm. However, eyewitnesses to the incident state the victim was not near the officer at the time of the shooting. In fact, the family members (witnesses) hired an attorney to pursue assistance in this tragic moment. This situation develops the notion that perhaps officers need further training in officer involved shootings. If the family members are correct in their statements, that the victim was nowhere near the officer, then the victim would have been subject to an unjustified shooting. The department is forwarding the investigation to the grand jury, and is conducting an internal investigation. This situation poses the question whether officers are receiving proper training in officer involved shootings. The public may not make an informed decision as to the shooting being justified. Of course, the family members of the victim will say the shooting is unjustified, and the Department will say otherwise. The public will not know until an investigation is conducted by a third, uninvolved party.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Ill Effects of Guns

As the day begins, a police officer wakes up to start another day at work. The police officer does not know that this will be the last time he will work as a police officer. On September 6, 2008, Martinez Police Department lost a Sergeant whom was killed on duty. Sergeant Starzyk, along with being a police officer, was a husband, father, son, and friend to many people. While responding to a call of domestic violence, Sergeant Starzyk was hit with bullets coming from the suspect. The Sergeant was fatally wounded along with the suspect, who took fire from other officers.

Domestic violence situations are unpredictable and make them dangerous. Recently, I read about the Nation’s efforts on gun control. Legislation has been passed to limit the amount of guns in circulation, and intervene from guns being in the possession of the wrong people. Availability of guns causes police officers to be in high danger. Would stricter gun control have prevented the death of Sergeant Starzyk? The suspect in the involved situation killed the Sergeant along with another female. Did the suspect legally possess his firearm that became the cause of the death of two people in the City of Martinez? Perhaps the gunman had retained his weapon illegally. Could the government have intervened further to prevent this situation from occurring? The United States has strict gun legislation, yet our officers work patrol with a gun attached to their hip, hoping that the person they encounter is not in possession of a weapon. Sergeant Starzyk was one, amongst many, that lost his life in the line of duty. Further government interventions may have prevented this tragic event. Sergeant Starzyk may have been able to return home to his wife and children that day, if the suspect had not been in possession of a firearm, which led to the death of a hero.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Today, the media has introduced a vision of law enforcement that is tainted. For example, the reality television series, COPS, presents a dramatic view of law enforcement. This television series, amongst others, presents the elements of law enforcement that many enjoy, those situations that get the adrenaline pumping. The most dramatic event that an officer may be involved in is an officer involved shooting. Reality television series show situations in which an officer has been shot at and must rely on his ore her weapon for protection of self and community. However, not shown are the implications that arise from these situations. One must consider the emotional, mental, psychological, and physical effects from such a situation. There is a direct impact associated with the parties involved, but there are also implications for families, police administration, and criminal liability.

When considering law enforcement, one’s perception must not become skewed by what is seen on television. In reality, officer involved shootings are the most dramatic events and officer may encounter in their career. Additionally, it may be the situation that has the most dramatic impact on the officer personally, and on their career.