Study: Law officers home from war ‘quicker to use force’
Many law enforcement officers called up to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are finding it difficult to readjust to their jobs once home, bringing back heightened survival instincts that may make them quicker to use force and showing less patience toward the people they serve.
In interviews with The Associated Press and in dozens of anecdotes compiled in a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, officers described feeling compelled to use tactics they employed in war zones after they returned to work in the U.S.
One officer said he felt compelled to fire his gun in the air to disperse an unruly crowd in California. Others said they felt wary about being flanked when working crowd control. And others said after seeing the hardships ordinary Afghans and Iraqis lived with, it’s hard to care about complaints over pet droppings.
The report, which was issued late last year, warns that the blurring of the line between combat and confrontations with criminal suspects at home may result in “inappropriate decisions and actions — particularly in the use of … force. This similarity … could result in injury or death to an innocent civilian.”
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