How to Avoid Getting Shot by a Cop

lavarr policy insightsBased on the headlines and social media buzz, it seems like more people are being shot by law enforcement officers these days.

The statistics say that isn’t necessarily true. But police officers and police departments are certainly under the microscope like never before — the subjects of intense scrutiny. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating departments, citizens protest and even riot over officer-involved shootings and, in some cases, it seems the default reaction is to blame the officer, not the person who instigated the shooting.

As a result, law enforcement morale is low. More young people question whether they want to enter a field that is inherently dangerous, and isn’t particularly respected. The problem is significant enough that some departments are having a hard time filling positions, and it’s questionable whether the best and brightest any longer want to go into law enforcement.

Certainly, bad cops do exist. Certainly, some departments aren’t run very well. Certainly, mistakes happen and innocent people are killed. Every shooting should be, and is, carefully investigated by proper authorities.

But I believe that most officer-involved shootings are justified and the blame usually belongs to the person shot or another perpetrator.

So, at the risk of coming across as insensitive, politically-incorrect, condescending, flippant, and even heartless, here is my updated top 10 list of things to do to avoid being shot by a police officer.

  1. Don’t commit a crime. Simple, yes? It almost seems silly to say it. But lots of crime happens every single day. Don’t commit a crime and your chances of getting shot are infinitesimally small. Nearly every officer-involved shooting occurs around a crime or a reported crime.
  2. Don’t hang around people who commit crimes.
  3. Don’t illegally pack a gun. Don’t make sudden movements with your hands.
  4. If you do commit a crime with a weapon and are caught, don’t point a gun at an officer or anyone else, or do threatening things with any other weapon. When confronted, drop your weapon immediately and put your hands in the air.
  5. Do exactly what the officer tells you to do. Don’t argue. Don’t lash out.
  6. Remember that the officer must make a split-second, life-or-death decision and your reaction will likely determine whether you get shot.
  7. Remember that the officer has usually arrived at your location expecting trouble, because a frantic call has come in about domestic violence, someone making a serious threat, a burglary or other crime in progress, or someone packing a weapon. An officer is absolutely obligated to take action quickly to prevent a crime and to protect innocent people.
  8. Remember that the officer comes into a chaotic situation not knowing all the facts and circumstances, whether the danger is real or not, whether someone is drunk, deranged, or playing a joke. Don’t to anything to exacerbate the confusion, or appear to be a threat.
  9. Remember that an officer has an absolute duty to remove a menace to protect the public. This is not a game or an opportunity to show how tough you are.
  10. Don’t deal with your depression, anger, recent divorce, or general disgust with life by forcing an officer to shoot you.

These things seem obvious, and they are. It’s all common sense. But in most cases of officer-involved shootings, someone obviously didn’t use common sense.

Believe it or not, officers don’t want to shoot people. They really don’t. They have personal lives, spouses, families, neighbors and friends. They want to go home to them alive and safe, without being forever emotionally scarred by having to shoot someone. They don’t want to be the subject of an intimidating investigation, the focus of news media stories, and incur the hatred of the family and friends of someone who was shot.

So help them out. Follow the suggestions listed above. It’s really quite easy to not get shot by a police officer.