Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gotta make a split-second decision

"The thing you gotta remember, this police officer has seconds to make a decision when he sees that gun pointed at him." --Police Supt. Phil Cline, justifying police for shooting a 14-year-old on Chicago's North Side.
In those precious few seconds, this police officer must ask himself many questions:
  1. Is that a gun in the suspect's hand or at least a replica that can be easily mistaken for a deadly 9mm Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #2.
  2. Is the suspect overly aggressive, perhaps shouting incoherently or in a language I don't understand? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #3.
  3. Is this suspect hanging out in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where the new residents fear walking to the local Dominick's? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #4.
  4. Is the suspect attempting to flee or at least wearing a newer pair of gym shoes that cost more than his mother probably makes in a week? If Yes, go to #10. If No go to #5.
  5. Do I recognize the suspect from an armed-and-dangerous list or does he at least remind me of someone I once said should be on that list? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #6.
  6. Is the suspect alone, or at least surrounded by unreliable witnesses, many of whom probably have records a mile long? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #7.
  7. Do I have a clear shot? If Yes, go to #10. If no, go to #8.
  8. Can I quickly and discreetly plant a gun on the scene? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #9.
  9. Does my partner have my back, ready to concur with whatever I tell the panel of police brass and representatives of the Cook County state's attorney's office and the Office of Professional Standards? If Yes, go to #10. If No, go to #10 anyway.
  10. Shoot the damned (insert appropriate racial slur)!


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