The following article was originally published on OpsLens.com on Oct 24th, 2016.
By Chris Wagoner:
Being in law enforcement for 34+ years now while still teaching new police officers at the academy level, I cringe every time I read or hear on the news of another officer being ambushed or shot just because they were a cop. And recently it is happening too often. I read as many reports and news articles as possible regarding police shootings and deaths, in order to learn and be as up to date on tactics and issues to then relay to my students. But after reading one article the other day, all I could do was shake my head and wonder how much more of these types of attacks are we going to see before people have had enough and demand better from their media sources?
I read about a police officer in Chicago who was savagely beaten because she hesitated to use her firearm on a suspect that was beating her head against the pavement smashing it over and over.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the officer, a 17-year veteran of the force, knew she should shoot the attacker but hesitated because “she didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on the national news,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
When police worry more about what will happen to them after the shooting rather than saving their own life at the time, then something is seriously wrong. Why are cops starting to worry more about what “might” happen to them after the shooting than protecting themselves during an attack?
It’s because of the “Ferguson Effect”, a term that references the St. Louis suburb where a police officer shot and killed a suspect that was trying to attack him. But because of the way the shooting was covered and portrayed in the news, people who knew nothing about the actual shooting itself, or the details, began to riot and a movement was born. One that calls for, among other things the death of police officers. The media called the Ferguson Shooting “The shooting of an unarmed black teenager” when in reality it was the shooting of an 18 year-old adult, black male, who was 6’4” tall and weighed 294 pounds. Who when he was shot was charging at the police officer to attack him, again, having already done so once. It was all in the way the media portrayed the suspect and the officer and conveniently left out certain facts of the case when had they described it and simply stated the facts instead of choosing the most inflammatory way of describing it they could, things may have turned out different.
Now because of that incident, and the others that have followed, the media has continued to try to fan the flames of racial divide, the “Black Lives Matter” movement was born. A movement of people who seem to forget that when you single out a race or ethnic group for special or favored treatment, you are devaluing by default the other groups. The BLM movement has since then become violent and contributed to many riots, injuries and possibly deaths. What would happen if someone tried to start a “White Lives Matter” group? Would they be called racist? Of course they would, and rightfully so. There is no need to single out any single race or ethnic background for specialized treatment. Cops do not go out and single out this or that racial group to target. When you patrol a black neighborhood like I did for a number of years in Pompano Beach Florida, I arrested many more black suspects than white suspects. If someone had gone back and looked at my arrest statistics and seen that I arrested 90% blacks and 10% whites, when looked at by itself that would seem to indicate a problem, and that I was “targeting” blacks, when in reality, I was simply around more blacks than whites during my day. But the media would be able to bend the truth to meet their agenda of fanning the flames of racial divide. The headlines would read “Dep. Wagoner found to be racist! He arrests 90% blacks compared to 10% whites and others!” when in reality none of that is true except the numbers.
As a trainer of law enforcement officers today, I try to stress to the new officers that they do not need to worry about what the media says about what they do. If they are acting within the law and within the policies of their department, they will be fine. But that is still in the back of their mind and that can be deadly! And it’s because of how the media portrayed one event and then the next and so on.
I think that if the media did what they are supposed to do, report the facts without agendas, things could and would be different. But that is not going to happen anytime soon. Think about this, if the media can fan the flames of racial divide and cause riots and personal injury to anyone, who gets to report that? The media of course. One of the things the media is not supposed to do is create the news, but that is exactly what they are doing. They are portraying one side of a story in such a negative light that it is perpetuating the story itself and creating more news.
In light of these types of officer incidents, it is important for people to understand that you cannot take for granted that a story about an officer, or anything for that matter, is being given to you in full and unfiltered fashion. If people would demand the same type of transparency of the media as they are crying for of the police agencies and officers, then maybe we would get a better picture of what happened at a scene, more of a “294 pound, 6’4” suspect attacks officer and is shot” type of story. What they are doing is not reporting, it is dramatizing an incident to create more news. Shame on mainstream media!