I have been asked my thoughts about this verdict.
It is hard to speak on all the prongs and thoughts that enter my brain- or what may enter many in law enforcement’s brains. It is hard enough speaking as a cop, or a supervisor. It is hard enough to wonder how much perspective I bring as simply a physically capable adult. It is dizzying to sort out insight from being a father.
However, I will share in attempts to be objective and constructive for those officers reading:
A non guilty verdict absolves nothing. We have a unique job, and we are given a uniquely complicated role and trust to do certain things with certain power. We need to be trusted that we can do those things. When we fail to do so, whether it is upholding our code of integrity- or whether it is failing to protect innocent lives, it is simply inexcusable.
I am unsure what “good” a guilty verdict would bring. It wouldn’t bring back those precious children. It wouldn’t teach a lesson that hasn’t been learned. I am sure not a minute goes by there is not shame and regret. Would it cue other cowards to resign? I’m not sure.
Peterson has been branded a coward- one of the most disdained of terms in our community. I am unsure how many would be able to bear that societal and moral guilt and shame.
I was recently asked (@on_being_a_police_officer podcast recording) what being a newer officer in 2009 was like- in the Seattle area with SPD Ofc. Brenton and the Lakewood 4: Tina Griswold, Ronnie Owens, Greg Richards and Mark Renninger were slain in ambush, unrelated to any 911 call.
For many in my generation, 9/11 was a call to action for a career of service - military or otherwise. For me, and many new to law enforcement in the region, I supposed 2009 was a gut check- and a call to stay for those willing. We had to face head on that you accept the danger to a new level- a walking target where death was a very real possibility.
Post Columbine, it became commonly trained that you DON’T wait, you GO when active killing is occurring. You might be out gunned. So be it. Guess who’s really out-gunned… the kids in that school.
Gut check. Train. Mentally, physically. Know how you will drive forward despite your fear and the chaos.
Those who have been on the job for some time KNOW for a fact there are officers who will hesitate in every department. There may be ones who don't show up, despite being parked right next to you when the call came up. There are officers who never seem to be first, second, heck anywhere around until the scene is beyond safe and stable. We know this.
Worry about you and your capable partners. Call out the lack of performance and accountability when it manifests- and you will be doing a service for you and your partners- and the public at large on that fateful, hopefully nonexistent but very much possible any day- kinda day.
Thank you for remaining committed to arguably the most critical and permanent need for law enforcement in our modern society.