Why are so Many People in America Shot by Law Enforcement?

By Richard McPherson

The September 11, 2001 attack on America brought out many weaknesses in our national security. One weakness was people in law enforcement had become hesitant to use their weapons.  For over 20 years the constant banter of, "guns are bad" had taken its toll. Guns are not bad, it's the people using them that are bad such as in the case of criminals, or inadequately trained people in law enforcement.  It's not enough for those in law enforcement to be able to hit a target, they must be better trained in making almost instantaneous decisions about using or not using deadly force.

Soon after the 911 attack, I was asked by David Klugh to participate in designing and perfecting a virtual reality law enforcement and military decision maker training system.  We did and it contained scenarios offering trainees the option to shoot, or not shoot based upon what they were presented in each scenario.

Traveling around the country, we ran military and law enforcement though the virtual Reality Shooter Trainer.  All of them were impressed at the realism.  They quickly saw the need for increased scenarios including situations of encountering what a first glimpse were hostile people, but in reality were not.  Here is the website. www.virtra.com 

That for me ended 12 years ago.

In 2003, I envisioned by now every major law enforcement organization in America having their own virtual reality shooter training system and sharing it with smaller regional law enforcement organizations.  Instead it appears as though there has been a ramping up of a military mentality in domestic law enforcement, instead of providing the training and equipping domestic law enforcement personnel require.

The data is clear, law enforcement personnel must be better trained and equipped to deal with a broader set of circumstances they find themselves facing.  It's not being done.  The largest tragedy is them encountering people undergoing some form of mental stress and shooting them.  Shooting them simply because they are not trained and equipped properly.

There is no excuse for killing unarmed people under-going some form of mental duress.  Among the many already killed in 2015, one stands out as the poster event for the nation.

An unarmed nude man in the middle of the day standing in broken glass on a sidewalk next to a residence in San Diego confronted by a San Diego Police Officer gun drawn pointing at him shouting something like, “Get on the ground right now” thereby creating further stress in the nude unarmed man resulting in the San Diego Police Officer shooting the man in the chest - simply because the politico’s had not funded proper training and equipment to the officer.           

Fortunately the man lived. 

Now his family is working to highlight so many unnecessary killings simply because funding proper training and equipment is not provided.  To demonstrate their resolve to help out other families from suffering the loss of a loved one, they have established a website. www.philespage.com.

Richard McPherson has spent the last 51 years working on national and local and international security issues.  He is a frequent speaker on all issues related to policy, training and operations.  He is the Executive Vice President of DownRange Global Solutions, Inc. www.downrangeglobal.com