As you know I am a huge advocate of the power of words. One word that I often talk about is ‘Victim’. I talk about people getting caught up in victim thinking and a victim mentality. This is the ‘Woe is Me’ mentality where we think the world is out to get us and we start thinking and acting like a victim. In fact this is the premise of the popular presentation I do called Dare to Soar: The Pursuit of Personal Excellence.
Today’s message is about a different use of the word victim. Today’s message has to do with violent assaults on law enforcement professionals. When a citizen gets violently assaulted by a subject who is intent on killing them we refer to and treat the citizen as the victim. Why does that change when the victim of the violent criminal act is a law enforcement professional. Why, when an officer does what we train them to do and what we expect them to do to save their lives and the lives of others, and that lawful action results in the death of the subject do we refer to the violent criminal (who is now deceased) as ‘the victim’?
They are not the victim of anything other than their own actions and stupidity. The officer who was violently assaulted is the victim of the criminal actions that necessitated they take action to protect themselves and others. The fact that they won the fight does not mean they are not the victim of the original criminal act. It simply means they prevailed in the face of a violent attack on their life and won.
This is a training and education issue. My challenge to all of you today, regardless of your rank, position or agencies is to train yourself, your officers, your investigators, your administrators and the public in your area about this critical fact. Lets stop the inappropriate references to these dead criminals as the victims. Lets focus on the fact that the officer was the victim of the attack and prevailed in the face of the threat to their life, or the life of someone else. Let us praise, not condemn the officer for their life saving action.