Reasons that police may turn to violence too quickly

Every time that the police turn to violent force and take a life, it feels like people start asking if it was really necessary. They look at the rates of police shootings in the United States, for instance, and compare them to other countries. Do U.S. police turn to violence too quickly? If so, why do they do it?

One potential reason is simply that officers have to make stressful decisions in the moment. They need to "adjust on the fly," as one expert put it. This can lead to crucial mistakes.

Another issue is that they may not have accurate information when they arrive on the scene or that information may be incomplete. If the police are told that the suspect has a weapon, and it later turns out that he or she does not, for instance, they could shoot that suspect with much less provocation.

A huge potential issue is mental health and the fact that many officers cannot identify it properly. If someone is having a mental breakdown, officers just have very little training in that regard. They may view the person as a hostile and dangerous suspect when that person really just needs professional medical assistance. Again, a snap judgment made under stress could lead to a mistake.

These are just a few reasons, and they do not excuse police brutality, excessive use of force and unnecessary shootings. They just show some of the reasons that it happens and what we need to do to fix it. If you have been victimized in one of these incidents, you also want to know what legal options you have.

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