Since the unrest began nearly two weeks ago in Ferguson, Mo., much has been written about what led a white police officer to shoot and kill an unarmed black teenager. The facts of the case are still being investigated.
Today's op-ed page in The Washington Post carried a different take on the death of Michael Brown, 18. A 17-year-veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Sunil Dutta, wrote an essay, "I'm a cop. If you don't want to get hurt, don't challenge me." In it, he seems to say what many are saying in defense of Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.
Dutta wrote, "An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job. Hollywood and television stereotypes of the police are cartoons in which fearless super cops singlehandedly defeat dozens of thugs, shooting guns out of their hands. Real life is different. An average cop is always concerned with his or her safety and tries to control every encounter. That is how we are trained. While most citizens are courteous and law abiding, the subset of people we generally interact with everyday are not the genteel types. You don’t know what is in my mind when I stop you. Did I just get a radio call of a shooting moments ago? Am I looking for a murderer or an armed fugitive? For you, this might be a 'simple' traffic stop, for me each traffic stop is a potentially dangerous encounter. Show some empathy for an officer’s safety concerns. Don’t make our job more difficult than it already is."
-- Phillip Tutor