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San Diego Paper Asks: Are Officers Who Get Involved in Multiple Shootings Good Police or Bad Police?

December 19, 2017  | 

Most law enforcement officers go through their whole career without shooting anyone. A handful get into more than one shooting — as many as four and five for two San Diego police officers.

Why this is the case, and whether the public should be concerned about officers who become involved in multiple shootings, isn’t easy to answer, the San Diego Union-Tribune asks.

Police officials say each shooting should be evaluated on its own for legal justification, without regard to prior incidents.

Officers have no control over what calls they go to, or the ultimate actions of a person who appears armed and poses a direct threat to the public or the officers, San Diego police Lt. Scott Wahl said.

Critics of police use of deadly force, on the other hand, believe the officer’s personality and training have more to do with his or her willingness to pull a gun and use it.

I think most people don’t understand about the use of deadly force,” said criminal justice Professor David A. Klinger, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He was a police officer in Los Angeles and Redmond, Wash., in the 1980s.

“If it’s a ‘good’ shooting, the analysis stops there. If it’s a questionable shooting, we have concerns,” Klinger said. “I’ve interviewed hundreds of officers involved in shootings. It just so happens they are in the right — or wrong — spot at the right time.”

One officer he knows has been involved in seven shootings, and sees them all as happenstance, Klinger said.

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