Friday, August 14, 2009

Whitehall Old Lady Beat Down at Walmart...

Ok, I feel it is time that I weigh in on the video that's been circulating regarding an incident at Walmart in Whitehall, Ohio.

Everyone knows my husband is a police officer and most of you know that Officer Scott, the officer in the video, is a friend of ours... So, I have something to say regarding the incident....

We live in an ever increasing busy world where things move at lightening speed. We receive texts while at dinner with friends and we get news updates at the same time more updates stream across the bottom of the screen. Sometimes it's mind boggling and hard to keep up with. But this lightening fast pace is nothing new for police officers. They have dealt with split second decision making long before we knew about Twitter... heck, they've dealt with it since before we even had email.

When an officer is dispatched to a call they are given very basic and often severely limited information about the situation to which they are responding. Upon arrival they have literally seconds to make a decision on what to do... that's "one one thousand"... there, do you have everything all figured out? In those seconds they have to determine how to handle a situation in order to protect everyone involved, the victims, innocent bystanders, the "bad guy" and lastly themselves. And often these decisions are made under conditions most of us couldn't concentrate in.

So, there you are, at Walmart where there is a woman with a knife saying she is going to cut someone and she's surrounded by witnesses all yelling at you. What would you do? "one one thousand, two one thousand"... There, do you know everything there is to know about the situation? Do you know what led up to this moment? Do you know who the old lady is? Do you know who all the bystanders are? Do you know how many people are involved? Do you know if anyone is injured? Do you know if she's already cut someone? Do you know if someone is trying to harm her? Do you know what's going to happen next?

Police officers receive ongoing training throughout their careers. This training is to enable them to make the best decision possible for everyone involved in a matter of seconds, well before any of us "regular folk" would have even gotten out of the car. And they are trained to make these decisions under tremendous stress. They are trained to consider every possible outcome while we would still be getting our seat belts off and they are trained to act right then and there... no time to reconsider.

Yes, this was an old lady. But, did you know if she'd already cut someone? Did you know where she came from? Did you know if she actually intended on cutting anyone? Did you know if she intended on cutting anyone in particular? Did you know if any of these bystanders yelling were trying to hurt her? Did you know if she was hurt? Did you know if she had mental issues? Did you know if she was alone? (Remember, you have a matter of seconds to figure it all out...)

Officer Scott reacted in an appropriate manner. She said: "Put the knife down". She repeated this several times and the old lady did not comply. Do you know why the old lady didn't comply? No. Does the officer have time to sit down and analyse why? No. The officer's job is to protect and serve all... all those bystanders who are screaming at her as well as the old lady with the knife.

Officer Scott did what she was trained to do: disarm the subject with little or no injury to all those involved... Police officers are trained on how to disarm a subject in the quickest and safest way possible. The "move" Officer Scott used to keep everyone safe was amazing... It was perfect in my opinion. And once she had gotten the knife away from the old lady and was waiting for additional officers to respond she still had to protect all involved. She stayed right there with the old lady attempting to calm her down all while keeping bystanders back at an appropriate distance. Quite a fete in my opinion as Officer Scott was kneeling down in a vulnerable position to anyone intending harm. Did you know who all those bystanders were? Did you know what their intentions were as they ran up upon the old lady?

Did Officer Scott pull up on the situation an think: cool, great opportunity to beat up an old lady... um, no. She did think about all those people standing around watching and how she didn't want them to get hurt. And, she thought about how she didn't want the old lady to hurt herself.

Had the old lady cut one of those bystanders the reaction from the public toward the police, I feel, would have been much the same. People would have been outraged at how the police handled the situation.

Had Officer Scott been cut and injured by the old lady I believe no one would have ever known about the incident.


raeann1302002 said...

Very good read. I agree with the entire blog. I wish everyone would realize the situations that the police put themselves in.Just for our protection. THANK YOU!!!

Jess said...

Not only did the officer have to contend with the old lady but she had to contend with an unruly crowd of bystanders too. I would have been VERY concerned for my safety had I been in that parking lot at that moment minding my own business OR had I been one of those officers. That crowd was getting out of control, hovering over the woman and the police and I thought that was very dangerous situation.

I applaud Officer Scott on how she handled it. Just goes to show how a video can't possibly tell the entire story.

Heidi said...

I wouldn't want to make those decisions. Nurses get a lot of misunderstandings about their decisions too.

Anonymous said...

Kate all I have to say is police officers do not get the respect they deserve. They have to put up with so much crap, and don't get thanked enough or appreciated. Kudos to officer Scott!!

Dustin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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