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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Preventing ‘Suicide By Cop’



Authorities in Long Island are investigating the death of a 31 year-old man last Tuesday.  They say he may have died in the way he intended to, in a hail of police bullets, or in what’s known as “suicide by cop.”

There is a growing movement to train police officers not to kill citizens, even when, those citizens seem to be asking for it. After her son provoked a police officer to shoot him in 1997, Louise Pyers formed a group to convince police chiefs across Connecticut to pay more attention to the phenomenon. Pyers’ group, the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement, now trains police officers to deal with these situations. Pyers joins us, along with journalist Julia Dahl, who writes about this subject in Miller-McCune Magazine.

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  • Philonous

    Where’s the controversy? If a person gives a police officer no choice, the cop isn’t doing anything wrong. Those who die by “suicide by cop” get exactly what they asked for, and we shouldn’t weep.

    Greg Camp
    Springfield, AR

  • Philonous

    Please, whatever happened to responsibility? If I put myself into a position where the police have to shoot to save their lives or the lives of innocents, then I get what I deserve. Innocent doesn’t describe the persons who force the police to shoot.

  • Philonous

    Every officer is changed by the training programs? You mean, every officer has to put on a politically correct face to avoid being sued.

  • Philonous

    Notice that this interview has no police officer included. Let’s hear from those who actually face lethal threats, while being responsible for maintaining order.

  • mamabear

    There is no criticism of police in this piece. Despite the fact that some may say that people who commit suicide by cop deserve what they get, a lot of officers caught in this situation are adversely affected and some leave the job. Others are haunted by it. This training is as important to the well-being of the police officer as it is for the person at the other end of the gun.
    Most of the officers who take the CIT training want to take this training. And they are transformed by it. We hear from them every day. They feel safer and more well equipped to deal with this. And they are better prepared psychologically if they have to use lethal force. And they know they will have the support of those who trained them.

    • Lcp

      This training is not led by social workers, it is led by police officers who are trained in the CIT model. Some segments are co-led by a police officer and a mental health professional. A police officer who had to use lethal force is also a faculty member. So to those who feel that the police officer’s perspective is left out, nothing can be further from the truth.

  • Charlesknause

    Marx’s famous definition of the state as “an armed body of men” still stands. It is the most concise definition that is born out by the facts. The US fed. gov. is a one trillion dollar a year war machine that consumes more resources than all the other nations on earth combined in a vast enterprise of death & destruction. The US has more people per capita in prisons, jails, etc. than any other nation. The vast and continuing expenditure of resources on everything from homeland (in)security to the militarization of local police agencies is all part and parcel to this process.

    For most people out there this would seem to be some sort of anti-American rant suggesting that everything that is wrong with the world can be blamed on the American state. Far from it. The fact of the matter is that the American state is far more efficient at achieving its ends which is the suppression of dissent at home and the elimination of any possible threat to US global dominance.

    What does all this have to do with CIT training? Actually, a lot, because these thousands(or hundreds) of killings of innocent civilians/citizens every year by police agencies around the county reflect the reality of what the state really is-”an armed body of men” with the mission of asserting control on behalf of a small parasitic group of economic despots.

    Cops are workers too and they no doubt understand the mission that they have been handed by the state. They are often torn by inner feelings of guilt and alienation because of what they are required to do on behalf of the state.

    Cops have one of the highest suicide rates in the country owing to the stress involved with what they are called on to do.

    No amount of CIT training will change the basic correlation of forces here and what people are called on to do in the name of defending what?

    However, it does show one thing. It shows that cops are human beings too who would prefer to be able to deal with and interact with the public in a less problematic way and that is a good start.

    The revolutionary changes shaping the world today have a direct bearing on our own lives. Its uplifting to realize that many cops on the job actually would prefer a better way of interacting with mentally disturbed members of the public if only it were available.

    Sometimes the good news is harder to deal with and accept than the bad!

    • Philonous

      Would you like to defend your assertion that hundreds or thousands of “innocent” citizens are killed by the police every year? What is your definition of innocent? Where do you get that figure?

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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