When Lt. Craig Cardinale got to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a mass shooting was unfolding last year, he found Deputy Scot Peterson pacing outside, repeating, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”
The deputy, who was assigned to the school, was behaving in ways typically associated with fear or panic, the lieutenant told investigators. He was moving “back and forth,” talking to himself and “breathing heavily.”
What he was not doing was what the prevailing law enforcement protocol says was his first responsibility: Go into the building. Stop the gunman.
Peterson has been castigated and criminally charged with endangering children and culpable negligence in connection with the attack that left 17 people dead. The case against him is highly unusual and promises to raise all manner of legal questions, such as whether a police officer’s failure to perform as trained can lead to prison.
But it also raises a larger moral question: How much bravery do we expect, or demand, of law enforcement officers? What level of courage rises to the level of heroism — and what is just part of earning the paycheck?
Officers themselves are likely to hear inconsistent or even contradictory messages that may reflect the public’s polarized view of police as protectors or oppressors. Police officers rushed into the twin towers as they were collapsing; they have also shot and killed unarmed people for fear of losing their own lives.
“Every cop has heard some variation of ‘Your first job is to go home at the end of your shift,’ some version of ‘It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six.’ And every cop has also heard ‘You are the heroes; you are the front lines of defense; you are the ones who are supposed to run toward the gunshots,’ ” said Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who now teaches law at the University of South Carolina.
Expectations and training have changed drastically since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when law enforcement was criticized for failing to quickly confront the assailants and 13 people died. Until then, typical police protocol had been for officers to wait for backup, or for the SWAT team to arrive.
But after that, many departments rewrote policies to emphasize that every minute could mean another death. Officers were instructed to impede or take down the gunman immediately.
Dan Oates, who was the chief of police in Aurora, Colorado, when 12 people died and 70 were wounded in a shooting in a movie theater there in 2012, said officers are now drilled in tactics that put the well-being of hostages and innocents first.
culpable negligence則意指「有罪過失」，為一法律用語，其中culpable意指「該責備的、 有罪的」，negligence在法律中則代表過失行為，而重大過失刑事罪的英文則是criminal gross negligence。
此外，片語take down在文中意指「幹掉，除掉」，並非我們一般所知道的「寫下來、抄下來」的意思，又同段片語put...first則指的是把...放在首位，例如把我的事業擺在第一位，英文會說put my career first。