How often do we as journalists play the role of Captain Hindsight while judging the actions of police? We sit safely behind a keyboard in the comfort of our office or home, as we talk about how an officer who was right there in the heat of the moment should have acted.
It’s easy to tell a person what they should have done after the fact. For police, who are put into situations where a split-second action is the difference between life and death, this can get frustrating. They have to make those quick decisions that could result in a life lost. Sometimes they’re proven correct in their judgement, and sometimes they only find out later that what they have done was in error. Either way, the burden weighs heavy for them, and we at home can never really understand that burden, even though we’re tasked with talking about it.
That’s why the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department is showing journalists in the area what it’s like to be them, to give those who have to report on it a better idea of what it is to have your life on the line. Through the use of video, and real life interactions that simulate what it’s like to be in situations the Department’s Deputies have actually been in, these journalists walked away with a new outlook on what it is to be a police officer.
I hope more police departments open up this kind of program for journalists. The more of us that understand what it truly means to have your hand forced into violence, the more the real world comes in to focus, especially for the public who only read and judge those who have to put on a badge and a gun, and put their lives on the line everyday.