“Police Shoot Unarmed Man” We’ve Seen The Headlines, Now Look At The Numbers

Accountablity

Below are the statistics of fatal officer involved shootings according to a Washington Post study that began in 2015.

These statistics and this article serve as the foundation for topics I plan to discuss in the future.

Fatal police shootings, unarmed fatal police shootings, race as it relates to fatal police shootings, and lastly, the media’s coverage of such tragic events.

A highly contested topic, no doubt. But one I feel needs to be addressed, despite the expected backlash from trolls, anti-police haters, and career criminals, who will likely come out of the woodwork, to spew hate in a feeble attempt to feel better about themselves. That’s fine, their hate and how it plays into the cycle of violence in America will be discussed in a future article.

Here are the numbers broken down by year, race, and a second set of numbers focused ONLY on the unarmed fatal shootings:

Shooting Stats Photo

A few things to note regarding the unarmed shooting statistics.

The Washington Post does a great job of taking their data collection one step further when classifying these incidents. They track subcategories regarding unarmed shootings which are, “attack in progress” and “mental illness.”

These contributing factors alone do not justify the officer’s actions. That is NOT what I am suggesting. However, it helps explain why the incident took place and could justify the shooting.

For example, the unarmed statistics include people who were reported to have fought police, attempted to take their gun, or reached into their waistband or jacket. Though tragic, this could justify the officer’s actions in most cases.

I can already hear the haters.

“Fighting the police shouldn’t be a death sentence!”

I agree. I wish it never happened. I wish people never fought the police. I wish the police never had to shoot anyone. Wouldn’t that be a great society to live in?

Unfortunately, that is not reality.

This does not excuse officers who use deadly force unjustifiably. Nor does it negate people’s bad decisions to fight police, attempt to disarm police, or disobey commands and reach into their waistband. The police didn’t force them to make such horrible decisions, they simply reacted to it.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking suggests we are being rational and honest when assigning blame for what transpired. A difficult task in a country fueled on media headlines and emotion. Most people refuse to actually read an article or gather facts. Instead they opt to take a headline as gospel, good, bad, or otherwise.

Somehow it is lost on some people, if you don’t fight the police, you’ll likely be lumped into the 60+ million annual encounters between police and citizens where NOTHING bad happens. Yes, as of 2015, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 60+ million encounters occur annually between police and citizens every year.

Lastly, and most importantly, a narrative exists that suggests police shooting unarmed people has become an “epidemic” in America. The narrative suggests that the trend is increasing or worsening.

However, a quick review of these statistics collected by a third party, a presumably unbiased news source nonetheless, would suggest otherwise.

In fact, it appears to suggest the opposite, a downward trend since 2015 in unarmed shootings by police in America. Interesting to say the least.

Yet the new rhetoric and sentiment remain, “police are the enemy.”

More on this, the media, and related topics to come.

Be safe and thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

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Slaying The Stigma

Adversity

I just want to be real with you.  I understand why cops are killing themselves.  I understand because I have been all the way to the end of that dark, desolate road.  The only difference, the only saving grace, the only thing that saved me in that moment—was a fellow officer who gave me a mission of hope.

The voices whispered into my thoughts, “just end it all…this life…there’s no point..there is no hope…with all the darkness you have seen…with the wretch of a person you have become..there is no hope for you.

Lies.  But I almost believed them.  And in that moment, I received a sneak preview of Hell itself.  Though I had begun to refuse to acknowledge the existence of a higher power, in my heart I still clung to a belief in a Creator..and Heaven…and Hell.

A grizzly, gruff Lieutenant in my department recognized my despair and heard my plea for help one day.  I was in the midst of an internal investigation and I was convinced my career was over, my wife would leave me, and my daughter would be taken from me.

Drowning in alcohol abuse, depression, rage, and darkness, I could see no hope—no way out.  I asked my Lieutenant, “How am I supposed to deal with this? I don’t know what to do.”  I was cautious not to let him see how much I was hurting inside—that I was crying out for help.  I didn’t want him to know the true pain in my heart, for I was so ashamed that I wasn’t tough like him.

Before I knew it, my Lieutenant had made a call to our department’s police psychologist and had given my name and number over to the “Cop Doc.”  Now, I felt like I had a directive from my leader—Go get help. 

Soon, I found made my first appointment with the Cop Doc.  I found myself sitting in a rickety chair in a small office in an old townhouse that had been converted for commercial use.  The soft noise from a noise making machine drowned any conversation in the tiny office from leaking through the paper thin hollow door.  Through heavy tears, I poured out my soul to this man who was supposed to be the enemy…this supposed “quack;” the police psychologist.

The Cop Doc let me finish, he listened and he acknowledged my pain.  He did not try to minimize it, and he did not brush it off or tell me to “tough it out, suck it up.”  The Cop Doc was the perfect balance of reality, compassion, and understanding.  He walked with me through the darkness and he pulled me out of the bottom of the deepest, darkest pit I have ever been in.  Slowly, I put my armor back on.

In the weeks that followed, the Cop Doc allowed me to text him directly and treated me as a friend and not a patient.  He never wrote anything down and he assured me that all we discussed was completely confidential.   He was my only friend at a time when I had none.

Soon afterwards, I began attending church and committed my life to God.  But I kept going to see the Cop Doc; I knew he could help me.  For the first time in so, so long, I felt hope.  To this day, I still have a relationship with my Cop Doc, and I am thankful for his friendship and for the simple fact that he will always stand by my side.

Today, I am a survivor.  My life is back on track, and I’m still a cop.  I love my job and I love helping people and making a difference every day.  I still face the darkness and the impossibilities of this job, but the new light shining from within me will never be extinguished.  My fellow brothers and sisters, we MUST DESTROY the STIGMA.  We are NOT weak if we ask for help.  We are all human and we are all broken.

Your badge is a shield, but it will not shield you from the trauma and the darkness we face.  We must seek help when we are hurting, and we must surround ourselves with a support network that will always uplift us and extend a lifeline of hope when we find ourselves in troubled waters.  Seeking help is the only weapon we have against the enemy of suicide.

Read the powerful true story of how my life was changed forever in my award winning book, Break Every Chain: A Police Officer’s Battle with Alcoholism, Depression, and Devastating Loss, and the True Story of How God Changed His Life Forever.  Available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Books-A-Million, Walmart, Ebay, and iTunes.  For more information, visit https://JonathanHickory.com

Jonathan Hickory is a Master Police Officer in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his 15 plus years of police experience, Jonathan has mentored and instructed other officers in police driving methods and as a Field Training Officer. Jonathan spent seven years investigating the reconstruction of fatal vehicle crash sites and three years as a motorcycle officer. Jonathan proudly serves as a member of the Police Department’s Peer Support Team providing Critical Incident Stress Management support to fellow officers. He also leads a Life Safety team with The Point Church in Charlottesville and the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers. Jonathan has been married to his wife Stacy for over 14 years and has two children.

Police Playing Russian Roulette? Wait Before You Speculate.

Katlyn Alix.jpg

By now most people who follow the news have likely heard the tragic story out of St. Louis, where 24 year-old police officer, Katlyn Alix, was shot and killed by a colleague of hers, while allegedly playing a game of “Russian roulette.”

I have waited a few days to discuss this befuddling tragedy, like most, I was in disbelief  when this story broke.

I want to believe the officer who fired the fatal shot is telling the truth, but I’m not naïve and usually when something doesn’t sound right, it isn’t. Maybe it is the cold hard truth? Maybe not? There’s likely more to the story, but I won’t speculate, for good reason.

That being said, in all my time in law enforcement, I know one thing to be true, you’ve never, “seen it all.” I remember times while writing arrest reports exactly how the arrest happened thinking to myself, “There’s no way anyone will believe this report, this is insane.”  But it was the truth. Sometimes things happen that are nothing short of bonkers and hard to believe. Thank goodness for body cameras, at least now the craziness can be recorded.

Am I outwardly saying that Officer Hendren and his roommate, also a police officer, are lying? No. I’m simply saying we don’t have the entire story right now and this story seems hard to believe. Maybe because we don’t want to believe that officers could be this stupid. They of all people should know better, so that naturally creates disbelief.

Either way, we need to wait. Unfortunately, that’s how our system works. The trial will reveal the facts and I’m sure that between now and then, more information will be released when appropriate.

Let’s not forget that the two police officers who were on-duty when this happened, have been charged with serious crimes. Protecting the integrity of the case for prosecution is paramount in order to have a fair and effective trial.

This holds true whether police officers are charged with a crime, or a citizen. However, in today’s world, everyone demands ANSWERS NOW! This short-sighted behavior needs to stop. There’s a process in place for a reason and that reason is to seek justice no matter who is on trial, potentially dirty police, an alleged drug dealer or gang member, or a citizen. The process is the same every time, as it should be.

It doesn’t matter who is on trial. The process must be done the same way and with integrity to allow the system to work the best way it can. And no, the system isn’t perfect, but that’s an entirely different subject.

This case is similar to the highly publicized incident in Dallas, Texas involving former Dallas Officer Amber Guyger who came home from work and killed someone she thought was in her apartment. Come to find out, she was in the right apartment, but on the wrong floor. A tragic mistake to say the least.

All of the facts surrounding that case are yet to be made public, but rest assured, the rumors and nonsense have swirled. Why not just wait for the actual facts to come out? Why speculate or spread rumors that there were ulterior motives? Hidden relationships? Or other ridiculous allegations that are nothing but that, allegations. What does that do to help the situation? I’ll tell you, nothing.

I guess we are a society that demands and expects instant answers and gratification. Patience, a virtue according to the most, seems to be a thing of the past. Try sitting at a green light for more than 0.2 seconds after it changes. You’re sure to get honked at and told you are number one. Pretty shameful if you ask me. Relax. Life’s a game you’re bound to finish, so calm down. 

So what’s my point? There’s a few.

This story seems odd, maybe it really happened the way they say it did, maybe it didn’t. Time will tell. Thankfully, the officers involved who appear to be responsible for this tragedy, have been charged and the process of seeking truth and justice are in motion.

Let me say that again for the anti-police haters, the internet trolls, the people who think police support pages and police officers blindly support police officers no matter what, THANKFULLY THE OFFICERS INVOLVED WHO APPEAR TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS TRAGEDY, HAVE BEEN CHARGED AND THE PROCESS OF SEEKING TRUTH AND JUSTICE ARE IN MOTION. (I’ve had my share of trolls and haters on social media lately, but I doubt they’re listening, this doesn’t fit their narrative).

I recognize this may be hard to understand, but no police officer wants bad police officers to be employed and active. What good do bad police officers do for anyone? Nothing. It ruins police and community relations and makes the job of the good officers harder. It’s that simple folks.

Had this officer played “Russian roulette” and killed a civilian, my feelings would be the same. If the officer is wrong, fire him and lock him up. If a jury decides he isn’t culpable, then so be it.

Unfortunately, the wheels of justice are slow. Until they turn completely and all the details come to light, we can only wait. But we should wait in silence. Let the case play out, let the facts be sought, gathered, and shared when necessary. Spreading rumors and adding your own speculation across the internet does nothing positive or beneficial.

This was nothing short of a PREVENTABLE tragedy and for that, we should be upset.

May justice be served and Officer Alix never forgotten.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

Thugs With Guns Talk About Killing Police (Video)

chicago thug guns
Video and Photo via Chicago Code BLUE Facebook page

 

Watch this video and tell me police officers are not targets.

Watch this video and afterward, explain how you truly think police officers are the problem in society.

Watch this video and tell me officers act on fake fear, despite having encountered people in cars just like this and lived to tell about it.

After watching this video, realize this, that officer didn’t know what was next to him, just like officers don’t know who they’re dealing with on a call, a traffic stop, or simply walking to get lunch.

After watching this video, realize if that officer pulled that car over, you’d likely read about an officer involved shooting, or worse an officer killed.

Who is to blame for this? The officer? Or the thug with a gun?

Remember, had there been a shooting, the news media would be quick to post photos of the kids holding those pistols, wearing church clothes, being hugged by their Moms.

Mom would tell the country via the news media her son wasn’t, “A bad kid, he was a good little boy.”

Meanwhile, the police officer can’t speak to the media.

On social media, the officer is made out to be a racist, blood thirsty killer, who manufactured fear, so they could shoot another innocent person.

This will simply further the hate toward law enforcement, making the target on their back bigger. A vicious cycle, that likely won’t be broken, due to society choosing the false narrative over the truth.

It makes no sense.

Yet this seems to be the narrative that is winning:

Police are bad.

Gang members are misunderstood.

Gun laws keep “bad people” from having guns.

The police need to step up and do more, without hurting anyone.

Impossible. Irrational. Irresponsible.

Fight the false narrative with truth.

The Officer Next Door

It’s Been Over Two Years, What Has Kneeling Changed?

Kap Kneeling
Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem continues years later as we head toward Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

A petition calling for performers Maroon5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott on change.org to drop out of performing the Super Bowl halftime show, has now surpassed 100,000 signatures.

The petition which is titled, “Maroon5: Drop Out of the Super Bowl Halftime Show” has been gaining steam in the last few days, refueling the controversy around Kaepernick, the NFL, and the kneeling movement.

A possible secondary goal of simply kneeling during the performance, appeared in a petition update posted by organizer Vic Oyedeji today.

The update includes a link that if clicked, allows you to share a pre-written “tweet” that reads as follows, “@Maroon5, @trvisXX and @BigBoi: #TakeAKnee during your set. Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with @Kaepernick7 and all players who protect police brutality.”

I can only speculate the petition organizer realizes it is unlikely at this point the performers will drop out, so a secondary goal of kneeling during the performance would suffice to spread their message.

So what do I think about it?

I support the ability of anyone to peacefully protest. With that, I have no issue. No one should. I am confused and have long been confused, as to how the act of kneeling will curb or prevent future acts of alleged, “police brutality.” It’s not lost on me that discussions about the topic may be one of his goals, clearly, that goal has been achieved.

I don’t condone police brutality.

Police officers don’t condone police brutality.

Anything involving police brutality or instances of obvious police misconduct, do nothing but make the job of hardworking, honest, police officers harder. With every instance of bad press and embarrassing mistakes, the divide between society and police officers becomes deeper.

This helps no one.

To suggest that police officers today actively support fellow officers with bad intentions is lunacy. The notion of a “thin blue line” covering up misconduct seems even more irrational now than ever, with the implementation of body worn cameras.

Speaking of body worn cameras, nearly every single police officer I know, who wears a body camera, loves them. Why? Because they can operate as they always have, without fear of being lied on. Think it doesn’t happen? Google, “False rape allegation DPS Trooper,” and read how devastating false allegations can be. Not to mention the damage it did to those who only read headlines and failed to see the follow up stories that it was in fact, a blatant lie. The damage is still done, sadly.

If Maroon5, drops out or decides to kneel during their halftime performance, so be it. It will appease some of their fans, maybe anger others who believe that police officers, by and large, do a great job.

No profession is absent of misconduct. It is standard logic that goes without saying. The difference is police officers bear a great responsibility of power and the ability to take a life. Therefore, we hear about their every misstep, on or off-duty. Rightfully so. The old, “held to a higher standard,” adage we hear surrounding police officers will ring true forever. As it should.

So the question is, “What can we do to have a police force worthy of praise in the eyes of Kaepernick and his supporters?”

Is there an attainable and tangible goal we could set and work toward?

Or are we failing to realize that as long as police officers are human beings, we will never have perfection.

Realizing an unattainable level of perfection and supporting a goal of striving for it, are two separate things.

I don’t have all the answers. I certainly would have told the world by now, if I did.

I know one side of the issue involves compliance on behalf of those interacting with police officers. However, it seems society these days is less interested in saying, “That guy could have simply put his hands behind his back, or not pointed that gun, or not swung at the officer, and he’d be alive today.” That too, is a tragedy in my opinion. If we are a society of fairness, we should consider all angles when assessing blame or causation.

I guess we will see what happens on February 3rd.

Ultimately, I hope people reading this realize one thing, police officers want to be perfect.

Any officer who blatantly breaks the law or abuses their power deserves to be fired, and if warranted, sent to prison. It’s that simple. I’ll say it again, police officers want to be perfect. It would make life so much better for everyone.

Damn the humanity.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

It’s Been Over Two Years, What Has Kneeling Changed?

Kap Kneeling
Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem continues years later as we head toward Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

A petition calling for performers Maroon5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott on change.org to drop out of performing the Super Bowl halftime show, has now surpassed 100,000 signatures.

The petition which is titled, “Maroon5: Drop Out of the Super Bowl Halftime Show” has been gaining steam in the last few days, refueling the controversy around Kaepernick, the NFL, and the kneeling movement.

A possible secondary goal of simply kneeling during the performance, appeared in a petition update posted by organizer Vic Oyedeji today.

The update includes a link that if clicked, allows you to share a pre-written “tweet” that reads as follows, “@Maroon5, @trvisXX and @BigBoi: #TakeAKnee during your set. Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with @Kaepernick7 and all players who protect police brutality.”

I can only speculate the petition organizer realizes it is unlikely at this point the performers will drop out, so a secondary goal of kneeling during the performance would suffice to spread their message.

So what do I think about it?

I support the ability of anyone to peacefully protest. With that, I have no issue. No one should. I am confused and have long been confused, as to how the act of kneeling will curb or prevent future acts of alleged, “police brutality.” It’s not lost on me that discussions about the topic may be one of his goals, clearly, that goal has been achieved.

I don’t condone police brutality.

Police officers don’t condone police brutality.

Anything involving police brutality or instances of obvious police misconduct, do nothing but make the job of hardworking, honest, police officers harder. With every instance of bad press and embarrassing mistakes, the divide between society and police officers becomes deeper.

This helps no one.

To suggest that police officers today actively support fellow officers with bad intentions is lunacy. The notion of a “thin blue line” covering up misconduct seems even more irrational now than ever, with the implementation of body worn cameras.

Speaking of body worn cameras, nearly every single police officer I know, who wears a body camera, loves them. Why? Because they can operate as they always have, without fear of being lied on. Think it doesn’t happen? Google, “False rape allegation DPS Trooper,” and read how devastating false allegations can be. Not to mention the damage it did to those who only read headlines and failed to see the follow up stories that it was in fact, a blatant lie. The damage is still done, sadly.

If Maroon5, drops out or decides to kneel during their halftime performance, so be it. It will appease some of their fans, maybe anger others who believe that police officers, by and large, do a great job.

No profession is absent of misconduct. It is standard logic that goes without saying. The difference is police officers bear a great responsibility of power and the ability to take a life. Therefore, we hear about their every misstep, on or off-duty. Rightfully so. The old, “held to a higher standard,” adage we hear surrounding police officers will ring true forever. As it should.

So the question is, “What can we do to have a police force worthy of praise in the eyes of Kaepernick and his supporters?”

Is there an attainable and tangible goal we could set and work toward?

Or are we failing to realize that as long as police officers are human beings, we will never have perfection.

Realizing an unattainable level of perfection and supporting a goal of striving for it, are two separate things.

I don’t have all the answers. I certainly would have told the world by now, if I did.

I know one side of the issue involves compliance on behalf of those interacting with police officers. However, it seems society these days is less interested in saying, “That guy could have simply put his hands behind his back, or not pointed that gun, or not swung at the officer, and he’d be alive today.” That too, is a tragedy in my opinion. If we are a society of fairness, we should consider all angles when assessing blame or causation.

I guess we will see what happens on February 3rd.

Ultimately, I hope people reading this realize one thing, police officers want to be perfect.

Any officer who blatantly breaks the law or abuses their power deserves to be fired, and if warranted, sent to prison. It’s that simple. I’ll say it again, police officers want to be perfect. It would make life so much better for everyone.

Damn the humanity.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

Colorado Avalanche Not Afraid To Honor The 148 Fallen Police Officers of 2018

The Colorado Avalanche recently honored the 148 heroic police officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting and serving their communities in 2018.

During the pre-game activities, they displayed the thin blue line flag across the entire ice surface and honored those who gave their life protecting their communities with a moment of silence. See a video from The Brotherhood for the Fallen Aurora below.

 

Initially, I was thrilled to see this video. I think anyone who supports law enforcement would be. Then I remembered the new “movement” that suggests the thin blue line flag is controversial and racist. I worried that this show of support would be spun into something it wasn’t meant to be, racist.

Due to this, I searched the internet and social media for any signs of outrage or controversy, thankfully, to my knowledge, there isn’t any.

For those of you who follow me on social media, I recently addressed the controversy surrounding the “thin blue line” flag and other anti-police issues, on The Officer Next Door Facebook page. Needless to say, it attracted plenty of haters, but I feel the message was important.

Unfortunately, the thin blue line flag has been deemed by some, as a “symbol or racism” due to the fact, it was displayed at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, back in 2017. Needless to say, the thin blue line flag being present at an ignorant event like that, repulses me. I’m sure I can speak for all of law enforcement when I say that.

However, I also hope our society wouldn’t allow the actions of a few misguided hillbillies, the ability to represent a profession that includes nearly 1 million people across the country. It seems a little short-sighted to me, but I digress.

People who don’t represent law enforcement, shouldn’t represent the beliefs of law enforcement. I can stand in a public place waving a flag that says, “Firefighters hate puppies.” It doesn’t mean it’s true, or represents the views of firefighters across America.

I also recognize the argument by some, that altering the flag in any way is “divisive” or “offensive”. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on that one. I know plenty of police officers that also served in our military.  They don’t seem to have an issue with the thin blue line flag.  I believe they see it for what it is, a flag that represents law enforcement being the “thin blue line” that stands between the evil in our country and the rest of America. That’s it. Nothing more.

Clearly, the Colorado Avalanche were not deterred by the possibility of angering the anti-police crowd who believe the flag is something it is not. Kudos to them for honoring the fallen. There’s no harm in that. For once, maybe people saw the gesture solely for what it was, a show of support for those who died protecting our country. Nothing more, nothing less.

The NHL has long been an example of class, when it comes to honoring law enforcement. Back in 2016, the Dallas Stars were allowed to wear decals on their helmets as show of support, following the tragic deaths of five police officers who were directing traffic at a protest march on July 7, 2016.

I chose the words, “allowed to wear” on purpose, due to the fact the NFL did not allow the Dallas Cowboys to do the same. Say what you want about sports leagues, they certainly have the right to support who they want, but it seems pretty evident the NHL gets it right. Every. Single. Time.

What a breath of fresh (cold) air.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door