By: Matt Issent

The United States police officers are trained killers. Roughly 20 percent of police officers are veterans. Service men and women who have trained for military conditions and combat are bringing home their training to use against the American citizens and could be contributing to a rise in civilians deaths by police officers. Thousands of civilians have lost their lives over the last decade at the hands of police officers with close to a 1,000 lives being lost each year.

The Marshall Project researched veterans becoming police officers after they left the military and found that it was the third most common occupation behind truck driving and management. They found a web of laws both federal and state that give preference to veterans for police service. “The Obama administration helped expand the preference: in 2012, the Department of Justice provided tens of millions of dollars to fund scores of vets-only positions in police departments nationwide,” the study found.

For the last three years, 2015 through 2017 The Washington Post found that there has been an average of 981 “people shot dead by police.” Depending on the year the percentage of those killed by police who were unarmed ranges from 5 to 9 percent, this is unacceptable. The use of nonlethal force needs to be the first option against those who are unarmed even if they are posing a threat to an officer. An officer needs to reach for their Taser or other nonlethal option before their handgun.

A 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics special report states that local and state police officers spend 60 hours on firearms skills and 51 hours in self defense but only 8 hours on community policing strategies and 8 hours on mediation and conflict management. It is clear that police officers are trained more in the art of killing than using preventative nonviolent measures. With another 240 lives being cut short yearly being people with mental illness, officers who spent more time in conflict resolution could have saved these lives, rather than ending them.

As citizens of this fine land we should be greatly concerned about our fellow citizens who are sworn to protect us, but are killing unarmed and mental ill people. No one should feel that a simple interaction with a police officer could result in death. Police officers should be seen as protectors of our communities not trigger happy gunmen. At least here in Buffalo NY we did not have any people shot and killed by Buffalo Police from 2013 to 2016, according to MappingPoliceViolence.org

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