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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
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LAPD's New and Very Dangerous Honor

Chief Beck's Preservation of Life Award is a terrible idea that will put officers in even more peril.

November 13, 2015  |  by Los Angeles Police Protective League

The daily work of Los Angeles Police Department officers is among the most challenging and dangerous jobs in the nation. Those who choose to do this hazardous work do so because they feel called to protect their community and have faith that the world-class training they received will protect not only the community, but also themselves.

LAPD officers are not seeking to receive an award. In fact, they are well aware that police work is often a thankless job, especially today, when anti-police rhetoric is prominent and perpetuated by the media and special interest groups.

The least we can do for these officers is preserve their right to go home to their families each night, and their right to take action to defend their own lives, and by extension, the lives of the public.

We recognize the Chief’s intentions, however, the reality is the “Preservation of Life” award announced Tuesday by Chief Beck is ill-conceived and in actuality has dangerous implications. Incentivizing officers for “preservation of life” suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do. It suggests that officers must go above and beyond their normal activities to avoid harm; or put another way, that officers will be penalized for resorting to an appropriate, lawful use of force. That is ludicrous. The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect.

This award will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.

Tuesday’s L.A. Times editorial piece references an incident earlier this month in which LAPD officers subdued a suspect without using deadly force. While we agree with the L.A. Times and Chief Beck that the officers’ actions were heroic, we are also very thankful that the officers involved were not injured during their efforts, a point not raised by the L.A. Times. This incident could have gone in an entirely different direction, and it epitomizes the often split-second situations where officers rely on their training to make it out alive. The “Preservation of Life” award undermines and devalues the training that has saved countless peace officer lives.

The truth is, we can think of a long list of officers who deserve to be awarded: officers who act heroically on a daily basis, and who protect the lives of everyone—even criminals—because it is their job to do so. Officers put their lives on the line each day and encounter countless violent suspects. The vast majority of these interactions are resolved without issue. Sometimes, however, force is needed to save multiple lives. That is the reality of police work. It is dangerous and not pretty at times. Using deadly force is the last resort to safeguard lives, and it is never our first choice.

The same L.A. Times article acknowledges this.

“Given the violent nature of our society and easy availability of firearms, use-of-force incidents are not about to disappear.”

We share their concerns over an increase in incidences of officer-involved force and shootings. Officers are increasingly feeling threatened in an already dangerous environment.

However, when the implication of this new award is to put the lives of suspects above the lives of our officers, then we have to speak up.

What we don’t want to see is a flag-draped coffin and the Chief speaking at an officer’s funeral stating, “This brave officer will be awarded the Preservation of Life medal.” This is simply a bad idea.

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

kevCopAz @ 11/14/2015 8:21 AM

I also understand then intent, but unintended consequences will result. Everyday LEOs strive to protect the lives of all, even offenders. Seriously you in Law Enforcement all know that if we went by the letter of the law and defended ourselves overtime that we were justified to use force, the officer shootings would be ten fold! We do this everyday now and this is a wasted effort.Sorry Charlie, bad move, again. This is a pattern with you.

ftrnr @ 11/14/2015 9:45 AM

At least Beck is consistent. Who would have thought monumentally stupid ideas would be limitless? Another attempt by a politician to deflect the real issues with stupid ideas the public will embrace.

S.S. @ 11/17/2015 9:04 AM

What is the thought from the Police Association?

Leonard @ 11/18/2015 7:44 PM

There is no officer safety exception written in the constitution. A suspect has just as much right to be alive at the end of the day as the police officer. Personally, those police officers that believe different, should turn your badge in now. You are not fit to be a cop.

Anzahl Jedan @ 11/18/2015 11:40 PM

My brother-in-law is a Deputy Sheriff and I have a number of friends that are LEO's with both LAPD & LASD all with excess of 25 years of service. I have been on numerous ride-alongs and have seen firsthand what it's like out in the field and seen how laws are broken, not by citizens but by departments. With that being said, when you take the oath to become a police officer you should already be aware of the fact that not only your life but the lives of your family members are in danger due to the career you have chosen. If you are not willing to accept that then DON’T choose a career in LE. LAPD has decades of wreckage that current officers great grandchildren will never see repaired and they continue to add to the nightmares that continue to get swept under that perpetual rug by every Chief since Gates retired. Lethal force should be a “last resort” but when the taking of a human life becomes first resort because you’re a Police Officer.

Anzahl Jedan @ 11/18/2015 11:45 PM

LAPD has killed 19 civilians this year in Los Angeles for various crimes such as being armed with a terry cloth towel (murdered via head shot), thinking they were being fired upon of course the murders get justified based on the officers “perception” however the recent murder of the unarmed man standing on a corner with his hands near his waist, murdered because they “thought” they were being fired upon when in reality it was a 40 oz. beer bottle thrown through the back window. If only one of the officers had pulled the trigger I would not be so opinionated but when “both” officers from the same patrol car shoot and murder an unarmed civilian because their “perception” was that their lives were in danger that says something about their training and what they are taught and what is ultimately protocol.

Anzahl Jedan @ 11/19/2015 12:01 AM

And what are they doing to better the way they police, LAPD now must complete a 5 Hour course on deescalating a situation, what a joke 5 hours. Why is it that LASD who patrols 3X the area of LAPD, deals with 3X the population and has relatively the same number of sworn officers yet they kill less than half the civilians as LAPD. Perhaps the psychological “training” that is gained while dealing with the criminals in the county jail system for years before being unleashed on the streets, armed with nothing but a brain, some pepper spray and a Maglite for some physical therapy which they’ve used for years and has now finally caught up with them. But in all seriousness LASD is getting hammered by the FEDS right now and the message is clear YOU ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW it’s about time the FEDS take a look at LAPD and serve some justice by holding the murderers accountable for their actions. Body cams will only add to the perpetual nightmare for those who forgot the shield is an honor.

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