Former police officers share important truths regarding shooting of Jacob Blake

Any time a police officer shoots someone and it's captured on video, the people of the internet debate whether or not the shooting was justified. Some automatically give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt, citing the split second decisions they have to make in potentially dangerous situations. Others point out that it's not a police officer's job to serve as judge, jury, and hangman, citing the due process of law that forms the basis of our judicial system. The reality is that, according to the law, police are allowed to use deadly force under certain circumstances. The problem is, few of us have the background to intelligently weigh in on what actually constitutes a justifiable use of deadly force.

Monday morning quarterbacking is a problem...unless you're actually a quarterback, of course. There are people who do have the background to comment on police shootings—people who have served as police officers themselves.

Former police officers are weighing in on the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin this week.


Josh Hicks, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kentucky and former police officer, kicked off a Twitter thread by stating, "As a former police officer I can tell you that shooting someone in the back seven times is not the right use of force for an unarmed man walking away from you. I can't believe I have to say that."

The tweet resulted in a flood of responses from other former law enforcement officers agreeing with his statement.

"As a former officer I agree," wrote Paula Gaca, "and do not understand these officers who pull their weapons out because a subject did not immediately comply with the their order. I truly feel that many young police officers today have not experienced life in general and how to talk with people!"

Former Georgia Deputy Sheriff Dawn Johnson wrote that she has to tell people the same thing. "Deadly force has now become the response to someone walking away from police. Failing to comply isn't the same as resisting."

She and another former officer explained that shooting someone in the back just isn't done, unless there is an immediate deadly threat the person is engaged in.

And another former officer described how they had worked in a high crime area arresting people who for sure were armed and committing felonies, and didn't have to fire their weapon.

Rick Gibbs, a 40-year law enforcement veteran, asked if it was an issue of training. "I too am confused as to what is happening within our police agencies all across the nation. Has training become a joke? Is a militarized force, where citizens are considered enemies, more important than community policing of neighbors, family & friends?"

Others concurred.



Meanwhile, a current police officer shared the Kenosha police department's own use-of-force guidelines, showing that the department's own policy doesn't allow deadly force for someone who is resisting. (It's worth noting here that simply resisting arrest is a misdemeanor in most states, unless there is active violence coming from the subject which ups it to a felony. Non-compliance in and of itself never warrants a death sentence.)

"Brosephus" and another former officer pointed out that since Blake was outnumbered and unarmed, the officers should have physically taken him down if he really needed to be stopped.

Speaking of WWE, professional wrestler Mustafa Ali (Adeel Alam) who worked as a cop near Chicago for four years, weighed in.

Not only did former law enforcement share their thoughts, but so did military veterans. Aric Reddington pointed out that police officers have less stringent rules about engagement and use-of-force than soldiers in a war zone.

Retired Marine D.J. Lutz, added, "As a retired Marine, when I see someone shoot more than twice, or shoot at someone not posing a threat, I see someone who has rage and or fear along with a lack of trigger discipline. More training or better entrance screening needed!"

Undoubtedly, there are officers and former officers who will say Blake's shooting was justified for various reasons. But even if he had a rap sheet a mile long, even if he was resisting arrest, even if the officer was afraid he was going for a gun in his car, until there was an actual deadly threat present, what was the justification for shooting him? Some people seem to think that cops are free to shoot people simply for disobeying their orders. (Yet many of these same folks purposefully disobey legal public health orders issued by the authority of the state and would consider it tyranny if agents of the state shot them for non-compliance.) Blake wasn't even the subject in the original police call that brought the officers to the scene in the first place. And his children were just a few feet away in the car, watching the whole thing. If they needed to arrest him, there were ways to do that without resorting to deadly force.

My opinion doesn't mean much, of course. But the opinions of experienced law enforcement officers certainly do.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

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