On the other end of a gun

Feb. 3, 2023
By Dale Kovar

The shooting/standoff incident in Winsted Jan. 23 made us do some serious thinking.

We often hear about such incidents but they are “somewhere else,” not so close that we hear the sirens and are forced to take an alternate route from our normal routines.

As citizens, our perception of those kind of situations and how law enforcement personnel function is heavily influenced by television and movies.

We know that in real life cases aren’t solved in one hour, including commercial breaks, yet those images of how perpetrators act and officers respond is our frame of reference – accurate or not.

While we waited for information about the local incident, it’s human nature to speculate on the details, but again, drawing on those fictional crime dramas.

The point I’m getting to is that moment when a police officer is fired upon in the line of duty.

To even become a law enforcement officer takes a certain type of person – someone willing to help others in difficult situations, and equally willing to confront those who are behaving badly.

An officer never knows what the next shift might bring, and as our society continues to deteriorate, even things like a routine traffic stop must be approached with guarded caution. One never knows when a situation will escalate out of control.

But sometimes they do.

And when they do, how is an officer to react?

Even with specific training for such circumstances, the moment demands an instinctive reaction. I believe none of us can reliably predict how we would respond; there are too many variables involved.

It’s easy to stand around the proverbial water cooler and talk about how we would handle it. It would be much different if a bullet was actually headed in our direction.

In the high-profile cases in large cities, officers often get raked over the coals for making instantaneous decisions in life-threatening circumstances. They might become convenient scapegoats to make a political point. Fortunately, this wasn’t the type of situation that developed into that scenario.

But the proximity of this incident gives us an opportunity to reflect.

Those officers are fellow human beings who put themselves in harm’s way to do a job. Not a job that I would care to have.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers