have willingly taken a job that involves personal risk. It also requires split-second decision making that must go beyond simple self-preservation.Despite that realization, the column lamely concluded, "Of course we want every officer to go home safely. But it can’t be their only thought." So what else should they think about when making a "split-second decision"? How should they prioritize their public safety duties vs. competing personal safety concerns? ¿Quien sabe? What a muddled mess! That's an awfully mild takeaway if the problem we're trying to address is "shootings in situations that seemed to pose no immediate threat to officers."
If going home safely becomes the overriding priority, that can become another way of saying, “Shoot first and ask questions later.”
Having only just recognized that he's been "nodding along" for years to a stream of self-serving apologia, perhaps Blow can be forgiven for failing to acknowledge that cops' jobs aren't nearly as dangerous as the media, for whom dramatizing workaday crime coverage is a money making staple, would like to portray. In 2012, for example, officers died on the job at a rate of 14.9 per 100,000 employees. That's comparable to the rates for groundskeepers (13.9), taxi drivers (14.9), and construction workers (17.4), but a lot less than, say, garbage collectors, who died on the job in 2012 at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000.
Garbage collectors are public servants too. What in the world would we do without them? (Thought questions for the comment section: Would society deteriorate faster if police officers or garbage collectors stopped doing their jobs tomorrow? Why?) Many years, a majority of police officer deaths on the job stem from traffic accidents. Why? The same reasons taxi drivers have a relatively high on-the-job death rate. Patrol officers drive a lot and many don't wear their seat belts, a pattern which boosts the overall deaths number significantly.
So yes, I agree with Mr. Blow that the press should quit "nodding along" and openly discuss the fact that, "If self-preservation is the first and foremost priority of a police officer, then you get what we have seen in recent months and years — a series of unsettling police shootings." While they're at it, the media could revisit the ubiquitous first-order premise that police officers' jobs are so risky that lesser mortals cannot contemplate the dangers they face.
Now awake to these larger questions of duty and public service, perhaps in next week’s column Mr. Blow will demonstrate the same awed deference to our state’s brave garbage collectors. After all, to a measurably greater extent than peace officers, those guys put their lives on the line every day.