Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders veered wildly off-topic in a speech in Monterey, California in order to accuse law enforcement officers nationwide of having a “shoot first” mentality. Sanders went so far as to accuse officers of shooting suspects merely to avoid looking “wimpy” to their peers.
Bernie Sanders suggested Tuesday that police officers are firing their weapons in conflicts because they’re afraid of looking ‘wimpy’ if they don’t.
‘It is not wimpy for a police officer to break up a dangerous situation without killing somebody,’ Sanders said at a rally. ‘That’s not wimpy. That’s heroic, and that’s what has to be done.’
Sanders was delivering his stump speech Tuesday night in Monterey, California, when he veered off course and commented on the cause of police brutality.
It was not immediately clear what specific incident or statement by a public official Sanders was responding to, if at all.
‘We have got to change all over this country law enforcement culture so that we all understand that using lethal force, killing somebody, is the last response not the first response,’ the Democratic presidential candidate stated.
He then commented on police looking ‘wimpy’ if they take care of business without taking a life.
I’m not a cop, but I have trained with a number of police officers who have had to shoot suspects in the line of duty. I know how they’re trained. There are local variations, but the basic rules on use of force remain the same across jurisdictions. Some of the officers I have come to know have even solemnly volunteered the circumstances in which they shot suspects, in order to provide a “lessons learned” to help keep others (officers and concealed carriers alike) alive. They share their stories in order to hopefully help others avoid having to “go to guns.”
They don’t want to shoot someone, Mr. Sanders. In fact, one of the first things an agency does after an officer-involved shooting is to do an investigation to see what happened, in hopes of learning if there is anything that can be done tactically in future situations to mitigate risks so that suspects will give up without a fight.
I’d also point out that during an attack, officers frankly don’t give a damn what their peers think, Mr. Sanders. No human being does. Their singular focus is on staying alive and stopping the threat when they’re under attack by a suspect armed with personal weapons, edged weapons, impact weapons, a firearm, or a vehicle. They’re trained on the use of force continuum, and to use enough for to do the job and protect innocent lives, as well as their own.
Depending on a wide range of factors, an officer may choose to go “hands on” with a suspect, use an impact weapon like a baton, deploy a chemical spray, use a taser, knife, pull a handgun, or grab a patrol rifle or shotgun in certain circumstances if they have enough warning of a deadly force threat.
Shooting people is traumatic, Mr. Sanders. No one does it for fun, or to impress their friends. They do it when they must do it to save lives.
You, sir, own this nation’s local, state, and federal law enforcement officers a detailed and sincere apology.