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  • moral defense for line -of-duty shooting..

    how does one morally justify a LOD shooting, i know ethics and law, but am having a bit of trouble with the moral arguments...im tempted to toss some John Locke and Hobbes in there, since im not a religious person and dont think that would be the proper route.


    references would be helpfull too.
    The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed

  • #2
    Better him than me.

    I really do not mean to be flippant, but I think that covers it.

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    • #3
      yeah thats my take on it too, but i dont think my instructor will like that response, remember the whole community policing theory...
      The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed

      Comment


      • #4
        I can not tell you wear in the Bible to look, but that may be a place to start.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by stangfather View Post
          how does one morally justify a LOD shooting, i know ethics and law, but am having a bit of trouble with the moral arguments...im tempted to toss some John Locke and Hobbes in there, since im not a religious person and dont think that would be the proper route.


          references would be helpfull too.

          Well, I guess if I'm killed, then my conscious wouldn't be bothering me. I'm sure alot of officers replay the incidents that lead up to the fatal shots for a long time, second guessing themselves. Morally, this is just something that they have to deal with.
          Last edited by LeanG; 04-26-2007, 10:09 PM.

          A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than yesterday. Jonathan Swift 1667-1745

          It's only a conspiracy when your party is not in power.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a moral obligation to my family to stay alive.
            I have a moral obligation to my fellow officers to stay alive.
            I have a moral obligation to the citizens of my community to stay alive.
            I have a moral obligation to uphold the oath I took to enforce the law and someone trying to kill me is breaking the law.
            I have a moral obligation to myself to stay alive.
            I have a moral obligation to God to stay alive.
            Fear not the armed citizen but rather the government that tries to disarm him.

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            • #7
              Society has an inherent right to protect itself, to insure the continuation of its value system. Rather than face the utter chaos that would result if each member of our society had the obligation and authority to enforce its laws, our society has chosen to empower a limited number of persons to fulfill this task.

              Society tells us it is moral for sworn LEOs to use whatever force is necessary to maintain the value system we have established. If your own value system cannot accept that premise, then you will not succeed in law enforcement.

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              • #8
                This could prompt some interesting discussion. I presume that when you mention morality, we're talking about individual morals, not religion but since religion has been mentioned I'll share my views. With that in mind, I'll presume that we're talking about the ten commandments in which it says, "Thou shalt not kill" and other teachings such as turn the other cheek. My answer to this is found within the law. The law in many ways parallels life in the same way religion does. It attempts to place rules and logic to every conceivable situation. Everyone knows this is impossible because each set of circumstances is different. However, the difference between law and religion is that religious rules tend to be rather vague while the law, if vague, is usually clarified by case law.

                Now, religion has little explanation, from its source. The law, however, is explained and tends to be flexible for each situation. In the case of a LOD shooting we can look at it in the context of both religion and law. If one were to take religion at face value, "Thou shalt not kill" then the officer has committed a violation of the rules. Then you look at the law, well, killing someone else is against the law. However, there are certain exceptions expressed within the law. One of those exceptions involves police officers in certain circumstances. And the key element in the law is intent. Explanations such as this is what allows the law to be flexible. I personally believe that religion is flexible in the same regard. Though it's not explicitly stated, I believe that those who wrote the Bible did so with the understanding that no explanation is needed. Common sense and logic would tell you that if no one who follows religion could kill anyone else then those who disregard religion and morality could simply go around killing anyone they pleased and everyone who tried to stop them. Thus, my understanding is that the religious rules while vaguely stated, parallel the law, the difference being that almost every aspect of the law is explained, either in itself or by courts.

                Basically, I think religious rules such as not killing are written with an understanding implied that it refers to intentional and malicious killings, not killings to protect the life of others. After all the teachings of the bible are not meant to be a thesis on what it means but rather a guide on how to live life for the followers of the religion.

                Now, moving on to morality itself in the context of line of duty shootings, without regards to religion. When we talk about personal morality, we're talking about doing the "right thing" in situations. Now, if one compares what is commonly considered moral or right in life to the law, that person will find that they are almost exactly the same.

                Before I go on further, from this point on when I say "they law", I'll be referring to the Common Law of England. Many modern statutory law such as CDS, etc can be argued as to whether it is truly immoral or not, however, I think few can argue that the Felonies and Misdemeanors at common law are anything but immoral.

                At common law two things were requisite for a crime to be a crime. First, there had to be the mens rea, or the evil mind, and second there had to be the actus rea, or the evil act. So, knowing that to commit a crime you have to want and mean to do it and you have to actually do it. For example, if you're out playing baseball, hit the ball and it breaks someone's window, well, that's a shame and you're responsible but you did not mean or intend to do that. At the same time, if you take a baseball and walk up to someone's house and throw it through their window, that would be a crime because you meant to do it. You intentionally destroyed something that someone worked to obtain. I think morality parrallels this precisely. If you accidentally break something, you've done nothing immoral but if you go and destroy something on purpose then that is immoral.

                Now, taking all that we've discussed so far and placing it in the context of a police shooting. Say you take a police officer who is a moral man. He goes on duty and gets a call for a man holding a knife to a woman's throat. He has reason to believe that the suspect is going to kill or injure the victim so the officer gets a safe opportunity to shoot the man and he does. Did the officer wake up that day and say, "I'm going to go shoot this guy today" ?? Certainly not. He was forced to take another person's life/injure another person in order to protect someone that that person was trying to harm. Now, let's look at it from another angle. Say the same police officer responds to the same call. He sees the guy holding the knife to the woman's throat and has reason to believe the suspect will kill/injure the victim. The police officer has the legal authority and the tools to kill the suspect but he doesn't. He can't shoot because he thinks it would be immoral. The suspect then proceeds to kill the woman right in front of the officer. Here you had a police officer, with the legal and practical ability to save the life of an innocent person but he doesn't, instead he willingly allows an innocent person to be killed. That is immoral.

                Evil is the opposite of morality and law and order. When we speak in terms of morality we're speaking in terms of doing the right thing in certain situations. Every situation is different, and no four word sentance can guide every single situation in life.

                End Rant.

                Comment


                • #9
                  so this is what i have ended up with so far...

                  The challenges that a police officer faces when involved in Line-of-duty shooting are threefold. The officer must justify to himself, and to others, why he felt it was necessary to end the life of another human being. The officer must be able to defend his actions rationally by addressing the moral questions that accompany those actions, by discussing the ethics involved in the taking of human life, and perhaps most importantly he must also defend the legality of his actions.
                  My personal moral grounds for my decision to engage the suspect with deadly force are based on what I believe to be law enforcement's role in the protection of the populace. When first confronted with the suspect and his weapon, I had no justification for the use of deadly force because he was not acting in a specifically-threatening manner to me or anyone else. The suspect then chose to endanger myself and other individuals through the threat of deadly force. When he refused to comply with my requests to cease, I became morally justified to engage him using deadly force in order to neutralize the threat posed to myself and to others.

                  While citizens generally have a duty to retreat, when possible, from a deadly encounter, police have no such restrictions. Indeed, while the average citizen usually tries to escape from a deadly situation, police officers have a responsibility to proactively move toward the problem." (Stock 3)

                  On a more personal note, an argument can be made for the morality of self-preservation. All men possess the inalienable right to life, and it is their right also to defend themselves against those who would attempt to end their life. Law Enforcement officers and Soldiers are the only government mandated entity that are trusted, perhaps even required to possibly take life in the course of their duties, no well adjusted person wants to kill but no sane person gives up their life given another choice, self-preservation is perhaps the most basic driving force in human behavior.
                  The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    self-preservation is perhaps the most basic driving force in human behavior.
                    Perhaps so, but there are those of us who are willing to risk our own lives to protect the innocent.

                    The key word in almost every single law is the word reasonable. Would a reasonable person with the means and ability to save the life of an innocent person stand by while the innocent person was killed? No. Would a reasonable person allow himself to be killed when he had the means and ability to prevent it? No.

                    Is it reasonable to take the life of an evil person to save the life of an innocent? Yes.

                    Now go back and replace every instance of the word "reasonable" with the word "moral". I believe you'll find that the sentances read the same.
                    Last edited by MdCop108; 04-27-2007, 12:23 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by detsarg View Post
                      I have a moral obligation to my family to stay alive.
                      I have a moral obligation to my fellow officers to stay alive.
                      I have a moral obligation to the citizens of my community to stay alive.
                      I have a moral obligation to uphold the oath I took to enforce the law and someone trying to kill me is breaking the law.
                      I have a moral obligation to myself to stay alive.
                      I have a moral obligation to God to stay alive.
                      You won't find a better answer than this.
                      Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        thanks man, i think i might do that in some spots...


                        obviously a law enforcement officer has the moral obligation to protect the citizens from crime, the man with the gun was a danger not only to me (in this scenario) as well as bystanders and others.
                        The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by stangfather View Post
                          so this is what i have ended up with so far...

                          The challenges that a police officer faces when involved in Line-of-duty shooting are threefold. The officer must justify to himself, and to others, why he felt it was necessary to end the life of another human being.
                          You have to understand, we are sworn to protect and serve. If, in the unfortunate event that someone is threatening serious bodily harm or death to myself or others, I have a duty to respond. We do not shoot to kill. We do not have the authority to "end the life of another human being". The offender understands that due to his overly aggresive actions this may be the end result, but please do not assume that this is our intent as LEO's.

                          A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than yesterday. Jonathan Swift 1667-1745

                          It's only a conspiracy when your party is not in power.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LeanG View Post
                            You have to understand, we are sworn to protect and serve. If, in the unfortunate event that someone is threatening serious bodily harm or death to myself or others, I have a duty to respond. We do not shoot to kill. We do not have the authority to "end the life of another human being". The offender understands that due to his overly aggresive actions this may be the end result, but please do not assume that this is our intent as LEO's.
                            im looking for good well worded more articulate ways of saying "i shot him cause he pulled a gun on me and im going home at the end of my shift"

                            sociopaths that do have intent to kill, should not have made it thru the hiring process .


                            i do disagree however, in my opinion by being given a badge, a weapon and a force continuum i believe that LEO ARE given the authority to take a life if faced with a deadly situation, officers are authorized to use force which can easily labeled deadly in order to protect thier lives and the lives of others....



                            im fully aware of shooting to stop the threat, i was looking for ways of saying the above without sounding like a stone cold bastard.

                            like it or not, if placed in that kind of position, i believe a officer should know that he might just have to kill someone and ultimately, it is his own conscience that he must deal with.
                            The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by stangfather View Post
                              sociopaths that do have intent to kill, should not have made it thru the hiring process .
                              Are you implying that someone suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder should not have made it thru the hiring process, as the idea of this happening is frightening? (Rightfully so)

                              Or are you implying that they should not have made it thru because this condition should have been discovered during the BI?

                              If your intention was to convey the latter, then I would love to hear arguments/opinions about what reasoning you used to support that claim.
                              This is a heavily disputed topic among experts; any insight from members of the law enforcement community would be greatly appreciated.


                              *I'm not a LEO*
                              Assumed permission to post in this section was derived from the following clause:
                              - HOWEVER, (if) you are a civilian and have a NEW Question or need clarification of an answer, you can reply in the original post.
                              I'm back in the game baby.

                              Not a LEO.

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