CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

OPINION: Police officers need our support when they’re forced to take a life

Nov 15, 2018, 2:29 PM
File photo Dallas Police officers comforting each other after a shooting. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas ...
File photo Dallas Police officers comforting each other after a shooting. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
(Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

The impact on a police officer when he decides to pull the trigger is devastating.

That’s something I think most people don’t understand. For the officer, taking the life of anyone, even it’s 100 percent justified, is incredibly painful.

Usually, that’s the moment when we turn our backs on them. But an officer is forced to make the decision to take another person’s life, then, more than ever, they need our support.

It’s never easy for an officer to pull the trigger

An officers hangs his head during the funeral for West Valley City police officer Cody Brotherson, who was killed in duty. Nov. 14, 2016. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

I would hate to be a cop right now.

There are not a lot of cops that are loved in this nation. Every police officer on the job is under constant pressure. There are body cameras rolling footage, people filming them with iPhones, and every single one of them is looking for any excuse possible to criticize everything they do.

And in a way, that’s a good thing. We’re doing everything we can to hold our police officers accountable and to make sure that they are full of integrity.

But when they have to make that hard choice and pull down on that trigger, they’re doing some more difficult than any of us who have never been in that situation could ever imagine.

It’s easy to sit back, play armchair quarterback, and say: “Oh, they should have done this,” but that is never a decision made lightly.

There is no situation in which a police officer pulls a trigger and doesn’t expect the person on the other end of that barrel is going to die.

When an officer fires a gun, they knew exactly what’s going to happen. They never do it until they are in absolute mortal danger. And even then, even when it is 100 percent justified, it still tears them up inside.

I’ve seen it first-hand. I have friends who are police officers that have had to use their firearms in service, and it is a brutal process. Even when they’re supported, even when everyone agrees that they did the right thing and they are treated like heroes in their community, it still leaves them with a painful internal struggle.

There’s that aching thought that they have to deal with every day; the painful reality that they have to face when they look in the mirror.

They took a life.

That’s never a decision any officer makes lightly.

Sim Gill and the Fraternal Order of Police

Debbie Dujanovic and Sim Gill

KSL Newsradio’s Debbie Dujanovic speaks with District Attorney Sim Gill. (KSL TV)

My co-host Debbie Dujanovic conducted an investigative report yesterday on District Attorney Sim Gill.

The Fraternal Order of Police, she discovered, has said that they don’t trust him. They say that he drags his feet on the cases, paints the officers as guilty in the media, and makes them wait for sometimes up to a year before pressing charges.

And their attorney, Brett Rawson, said something that really bothered me:

I’ve had clients call with the concern that they would have to take the first bullet rather than subject their families to the month – sometimes years – of persecution.

These officers would rather get shot than get dragged through these trials.

That’s how hard it is, for an officer, when they aren’t supported. When we refuse to give our police officers the benefit of the doubt, we put them in a position where pulling that trigger is going to be so much harder than it already is that they would rather take a bullet.

There has to be an investigation, of course. When a police officer pulls out their weapon and fires, he has to be able to answer and say why he did it.

But unless there’s a preponderance of evidence showing that it wasn’t necessary or that the officer did something wrong, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

We have to support them. We have to be able to say that, until we know better, we’re willing to trust that our officers aren’t making these decisions lightly.

More to the story

I don’t know enough about Sim Gill to condemn him. I don’t know if he’s doing enough to support his police officers or not. All I know is that I don’t want good cops making tough decisions to get caught in limbo.

But Debbie Dujanovic does.

Everyone needs to hear what she and her investigative team uncovered in their report on KSL TV.

And if you didn’t get to hear her story on KSL Newsradio today, you need to listen to her now:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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OPINION: Police officers need our support when they’re forced to take a life