Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
With cops shooting citizens, citizens shooting cops, and plenty of people just plain old shooting each other, it’s obvious we have a culture of death in America. (Just kidding. The culture of death is only found in PP clinics.) More seriously, with the killing of the Dallas shooter by Dallas police employing a unique method the question of use of force has come to the fore of my mind. Many people cheer the outcome for this particular suspect, but I am reluctant to give applause to something new just because the outcome seems laudable. I’m constrained by both knowledge and philosophy to slow down and take a closer look at the available information, compare that to my own experience and knowledge before I render my support to a new technique of the state to exercise its power, especially the power over an individual’s life.
For a little background on where I’ve formed my understanding of this: I served in the Navy as a Missile Technician for around 14 years. The official description of the job says a lot about computers and electro-hydraulic systems, but the truth is Missile Technicians are first and foremost guardians of our nation’s most sensitive weapons. The first watch one qualifies is as a security guard, and every watch thereafter entails security to some degree, including being armed and authorized to use deadly force. The first binary question in qualification for these duties is to know and understand the Navy’s definition of deadly force and its justified uses. I first memorized this in November of 1993 and remember it word for word to this day. I often joke that it will be the my last words. I have been questioned and drilled on it, I have run through countless scenarios testing my knowledge of it, and I even found myself standing at parade rest outside the Executive Officer’s stateroom once to explain why my answer to the Pacific Fleet’s Nuclear Weapons Security Officer demonstrated too much willingness to employ it. Because of the countless hours I’ve spent specifically contemplating the use of deadly force I come at police use of it from a very technical point of view. The situation in Dallas raised some serious questions for me, but questions that would be easily and satisfactorily answered with more information.