Situational awareness can save your life. Especially if you happen to be a cop.
A police officer in Naperville, Illinois, pulled over a driver for a minor traffic violation when another vehicle pulled up beside him traveling in the opposite direction, according to WSPY News. A man then got out of that stopped car and charged at the officer with a hatchet.
The officer had been on the scene for over 11 minutes, according to the Naperville Police Department. There’s no way he could have been expecting a man to attack him for no apparent reason.
The officer, a 22-year veteran of the NPD, promptly shot and killed the assailant. The deceased man was identified as 28-year-old Edward C. Samaan, of Naperville.
Editor’s Note: The following video contains violence and adult language that some may find disturbing. Viewer discretion advised.
The incident starts at 2:30, but the entirety gives context to the importance of body cams and their limitations:
An internal investigation into the incident is underway.
Do police need guns?
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Body and dash cameras are important tools for police. It is important to note, however, that the lens on the cameras are fixed and cannot catch all that the officer sees and hears.
Americans are an armed people, and that includes criminals. Cops need to be able to match criminals and meet violence with violence if they are to do their jobs. To accomplish this, police need to be equipped with a variety of weapons, from tasers to shotguns.
They need to be trained to use them, as well.
This, among other things, led to a wave of law enforcement retirements and departures in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy in 2020. Since then, police departments have been struggling to recruit the next generation of police officers, according to the New York Post.
A June 2021 survey of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit think tank, shows a 45 percent increase in the retirement rate and an 18 percent increase in resignations in 2020-21, compared to the previous year.
Chief Michael Lawn of Watertown, Maryland, told GBH News, “This job has changed. Nobody wants this job anymore.”
Chief Lawn announced his retirement in April of this year after 32 years of service.
It bears repeating that the police officer in Naperville, Illinois, was a 22-year veteran.
What if it had been a rookie?
Nothing equips an officer with situational awareness like experience. Situational awareness is probably a cop’s most valuable weapon.
As crime continues to rise, more cops need to be recruited. It will take time for them to gain experience.
I pray the old guard doesn’t abandon ship too soon. The next generation of police officers needs to learn from their experience.
We need them now more than ever.
God bless them, old and young.