The aftermath of a police shooting is a trying time for a community. Often these events widen the mistrust between law enforcement and those its sworn to protect. And that trust is hard to earn back. Especially when the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training allows an officer recently tried for shooting an unarmed black man to use her experience as a teaching tool for other officers on how they can “survive” emotionally and financially after such critical incidents.
Betty Shelby left the police department in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after she was acquitted of manslaughter in the 2016 fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.
She returned Tuesday, and a lot of people weren’t happy about it.
Shelby, now working for a sheriff’s office in a nearby county, came back to Tulsa to teach a course on helping police officers “survive” the aftermath of controversial shootings such as the one in which she was involved.
For those of you who have been living under a rock or whose only source of current events news is your minister’s Facebook posts, in 2016 Terence Crutcher was fatally shot by Betty Shelby, a former Tulsa police officer. In a video of the incident, responding officers can be heard saying Crutcher “looks like a bad dude.” This is because officers are apparently trained to read the aura of suspects upon arrival on the scene to determine how much negative energy is radiating from the soul. Either that or because they were profiling him.
Now I’m not a cop, nor do I play one on TV, but I was raised in a police family. I understand that when officers are under a lot of stress, they are pressured to make decisions quickly. Sometimes those decisions cause anxiety, stress, and regret for the officers themselves. And some may argue there were drugs and noncompliance on Crutcher’s part involved. But did the decision to immobilize Crutcher have to involve a gun? Because the video also states that one officer on the scene was preparing to use a taser when Shelby fired the shot. Then again, Tulsa officers do have a history of choosing to use a gun over a taser.
But no matter your opinions on the incident, we can all agree that the aftermath was detrimental to the community. So what is Shelby talking about in the training? How police departments can work to gain the trust of the community back after a critical incident? How officers can support the deceased’s family? How to keep from having to use deadly force in the first place?
“Participants will be exposed to many of the legal, financial, physical, and emotional challenges which may result from a critical incident in an effort to prepare (law enforcement officers) for the aftermath,” reads the course description on the website for the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
Shelby has said she’ll teach fellow officers how to deal with what she calls the “Ferguson effect,” a reference to the 2014 shooting and subsequent unrest surrounding the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
She told CNN affiliate KTUL the Ferguson effect is “When a police officer is victimized by anti-police groups and tried in the court of public opinion.”
So because of the increase in the “Ferguson Effect” after shootings I guess it is Shelby who is the real victim. Not the unarmed black men who were killed in the first place.
This was a difficult one. Follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek