Not the first time Joe Biden has offered this prescription for police reform, but it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it described as “de-escalation.” In last night’s ABC News town-hall forum, Biden responded to George Stephanopoulos’ question about how to solve our “systemic problem” in policing, and Biden first suggested federal oversight of local police departments to root out systemic problems. Next, though, Biden discussed his ideas of de-escalation, which somehow includes firing bullets at people:
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 16, 2020
BIDEN: There’s a lot of things we’ve learned and it takes time, but we can do this. You can ban chokeholds, you can — but — but beyond that, you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances, de-escalate. So, instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg. There’s ways — you have to do more background checks in terms of whether or not the person coming in passes certain psychological tests.
This is not just nonsense, it’s dangerous nonsense. Police shouldn’t fire weapons at all unless they are facing a imminent lethal threat to themselves or others, but when they do use firearms, they have to do so in the safest and most effective manner possible. Police (and everyone else who takes firearms courses) are trained to aim at center mass for a number of reasons, primarily because it has the best percentage of not missing. Aiming at moving limbs (and heads) is difficult even under calm circumstances, let alone the high-adrenaline situations of lethal threats. When bullets miss, they keep going for a long way and can kill other people, even on ricochets. Instead of killing an actual lethal threat, this policy would increase the potential for killing or wounding bystanders.
Not only that, but hitting a leg is not necessarily going to end the threat, especially in a close-in situation with either a gun or a knife. If someone with a knife closes within 20 feet, taking out a leg won’t stop the momentum enough to prevent the criminal from making an attack. And for that matter, a leg shot can be almost instantly lethal if it hits the femoral artery, even if you do manage to hit it at all. This is an answer straight out of a bad Hollywood cop movie or Western, and it’s just as realistic.
That’s not the only ignorant part of this answer, either:
BIDEN: And the last thing I’ll say, and I’m sorry, but it’s really, I think, really, really important, is you have to be in a position where you are able to identify — identify the things that have to change and one of the things that has to change is, so many cops get called into circumstances where somebody is mentally off. Like what happened not long ago, that guy with the knife.
That’s why we have to provide — within police departments, psychologists and social workers, to go out with the cops on those calls, those — some of those 911 calls, to de-escalate the circumstance, to deal with talking them down.
Biden wants a sociologist or a psychologist to be brought into situations of lethal threats? A guy with a knife is a lethal threat, and the more people that enter a lethal situation without the requisite training for defending themselves and others will quickly become one more liability, one more potential civilian police have to protect. Police can be trained in de-escalation techniques, and often are, and that’s much more sensible than creating a larger pool of potential victims.
At least Biden did get one thing right:
We shouldn’t be defunding cops, we should be mandating the things that we should be doing within police departments and make sure there’s total transparency.
True enough, but telling cops to aim at legs is most definitely not one of those things. Neither is getting de-escalation lessons from cop shows.