I had the privilege to take part in mock interviews for high school seniors today. They are all part of the Avenue Scholars program and are taking college classes as well as attending their respective high schools. Today they were given a taste of what real job interviews are going to be like, with professionals various career fields there acting as potential employers.
The questions were the standard type: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses; what have you learned about yourself in the last year; why are you the most qualified candidate? I always hated that last one. I never said I was the most qualified candidate.
Seeing those young adults getting ready for the real thing brought me back a bit. It has been almost ten years since I've had to put my best foot forward in front of a potential employer. It reminded me of how uncertain you are when you've never had a career job; how untested. You say the things you want to believe; but do you really believe them?
I loved being able to offer advice to the kids: firm up the handshake a little; speak up; never say your weakness is perfectionism; etc. Things got really interesting when I posed a scenario question to them. Actually, this was the first scenario question I was asked in my own job search as a college senior. These are asked for a few reasons: some are to test your decision making skills, others to see if you can take someone's life if necessary. This one was the latter.
You're on duty; uniformed patrol. A "help an officer" call goes out; your partner is in trouble. You arrive minutes later only to find yourself on the other side of a large fence and there's no way through or around. Your partner is unconscious, defenseless, and still being assaulted by the suspect... with a bat. What do you do?
The responses were much the same as mine were:
Student: "Climb the fence."
Me: "It's too tall and there's barbed wire at the top."
Student: "Call for backup."
Me: "They're 30 minutes away."
Student: "I'd drive through the fence."
Me: "Concrete pillars too; won't work."
Student: "I'd tase him."
Me: "Can't do it through the fence and they're out of range."
Student: "I'd shoot him... like in the leg or somewhere to make him stop."
The student who said she would shoot to wound was wincing as she said it, as if the thought of shooting someone hurt her. It indicated she hadn't thought much about having to hurt some people to save others. I stopped the scenario and explained that officers never shoot to wound; it's either deadly force or it isn't. Her response was that she wanted to help the officer but not hurt the suspect.
Every cop knows the answer to that scenario: Shoot the guy until he's not a threat. You have to be willing to kill someone to be a cop; many civilians don't get this, I mean really get it. They've never thought about these types of things and I don't blame them. Most will never have to deal with them, thankfully.
This is why I created Police Academy. Thanks to smartphones and body cameras, the reality of police work is becoming much more real to a world that doesn't know how to deal with it. It's not pretty; people get hurt; people get killed. It almost never works out nice and neat like it does in Hollywood. When a cop takes someone to the ground, they can't use just enough force to overcome the resistance. They use "violence of action" to end the situation as quickly and safely as possible. People see it and think it's excessive because they don't know any better.
I didn't know better when I first became a cop. Yes, I knew I might have to shoot someone, but I had no idea how rough being a cop would be. How painful handcuffs, getting tased or pepper sprayed were. How hard you have to take someone down or how easily you can get killed if you give someone even the slightest chance to slip out of your control. I know now.
I hope to share what I know with our country, with as many people as possible. Ignorance and prejudice are tearing us apart. Only the honest truth will bring us back together.
Do Good || Be Strong || Fear Nothing