Commentary

Editorial: Sometimes police just need to walk away

It seems counter-intuitive to many of us that, when confronted with an angry person breaking rules or engaging in questionable behavior, the best course for a person of authority is to simply walk away. But as countless teachers and mental health professionals have learned down through the years, deescalation is, in fact, regularly the best choice.

A fine editorial in this morning’s Greensboro News & Record makes this point — among several others — in a discussion of the Ferguson, Missouri disaster and its implications for other communities with similar police-community tensions. As the editorial notes:

[Former Ferguson police officer Darren] Wilson frequently invokes his ‘training’ in explaining his encounter with Brown, which involved only 90 tragic seconds. But more police forces are stressing ‘de-escalation’ to avert physical confrontations. ‘We haven’t taught officers to just walk away,’ Cambridge, Mass., police Commissioner Robert Haas told the Associated Press. Some situations demand the use of force. Others don’t. In some cases, the best weapons are patience and reason. And the best fight, the one avoided.”

Here in North Carolina — home of the late, great Andy Griffith who taught weekly TV lessons as “the sheriff without a gun” — such an obvious truth ought to already be embedded in our community DNA. Let’s hope experts of all kinds keep speaking up and reminding us of the logic of such an approach until it become common wisdom once again.

Read the entire N&R editorial by clicking here.

2 Comments


  1. Sean D Sorrentino

    December 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    At what point should Darren Wilson have “walked away?” While Mike Brown was punching him through the window? Or after he’d already shot him inside the police SUV but before Brown turned back to charge at him?

  2. Alan

    December 4, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Sean is right. The cops should just should black “demons” on sight., right? Perhaps Officer Wilson should have walked away before he fired a fatal shot into Mike Browns head at close range? That would be an execution by any definition.

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