Richard Myers | What About Police Hiring Practices?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I’d like to weigh in about our police and what has been going on of late. I should first explain that I know very little about the operation of the Sheriff’s Department here in Santa Clarita or anywhere. “Very little” is not quite accurate. I know “nothing” about the operation of the police or sheriff’s departments.

However, I do wonder about some things: Why is it that it seems that the police are always shooting people in the chest, where they will likely die? Why not the leg or hip?

If we were to ask that question or something like it we very well may get an answer that reveals that, indeed for every such case we hear about, there are hundreds of cases, perhaps thousands, where less than deadly force was used.

If that were indeed the case, perhaps our police are doing an incredibly wonderful job. Has anyone ever looked into that possibility?

Can the police departments improve? Of course. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions.

Changing procedures and protocols and training. All seem important but I think most important is initial acceptance into the department.

Years ago, when I was a young man in my late 20s, I lived in the San Fernando Valley and had a great many friends. Of all the friends I knew, one guy applied for the police force and I thought to myself, “He’s the last guy I would want carrying a gun.” 

He was accepted.

I mention this because I think initial hiring is critical. Are the tests about mental stability good enough? Psychological testing is critical at entry level and, furthermore, since the pressures of the job seem severe, retesting should be done periodically.

There’s no question that there may be a great many things that could be changed and improved, but what I believe is most critical is the testing to ensure we get the personnel with the mental stability for the job. 

Richard Myers


Editor’s note: We’re no “experts” on law enforcement, either, but regarding your question about shooting in the chest vs. an arm or a leg: Once the decision has been made to shoot, law enforcement officers are trained to shoot at “center mass” — in other words, the largest part of the body, the part you are least likely to miss. Aiming for an arm or a leg may sound good and it may seem to work on TV shows and in Hollywood movies, but in reality, aiming with such precision, while under stress, with a split second to act, and with what is likely a moving target, is not a realistic expectation.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS