How Fear Infects, Ctd

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

Something to keep in mind is that police officers are required to walk into and to participate in events from which the rest of us are entitled - and even advised - to shy away.

That fact, I think, is part of the reason why police officers are less likely to be convicted for shootings for which they would be punished if they were not police officers. I'm not chasing after a guy identified by a bloodied victim as having raped her; I'm not supposed to confront him, to physically subdue him and to take him into custody.

If I think a guy has a gun - just "think" he does - I can run away. But since I wasn't running after him in the first place I'm not that likely to be present when he pulls out what I think is a gun. And I certainly don't have to keep going toward him so that I can capture and subdue him.

Police officers get a break on their decisions to use force because they have to actually make decisions; the rest of us don't.