When Cops Face Knives, Not Guns: New at Reason

police shootingThe man in the Camden, New Jersey, police video is practically begging to be shot. After using a knife to menace a cashier and a customer in a fast-food restaurant, he strides down a street slashing at the air as police repeatedly order him to drop his weapon. The man keeps walking, defiantly waving the knife.

Several cops form a ring around him and move along at a safe distance, block after block. This goes on for several tense minutes, as the viewer waits for shots to ring out. But they never do. Eventually, the man drops the knife and is collared.

It's a reasonably happy outcome. Had the 2015 incident occurred a year earlier, before the department adopted new tactics, "we would more than likely have deployed deadly force and moved on," Chief J. Scott Thomson told The New York Times. Instead, the offender survived, and no cop had to deal with the trauma of killing him.

Camden is not alone in trying a different approach to such confrontations. In Chicago, where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot to death in a similar encounter, the police department has proposed new guidelines on the use of force in the hope of avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. All 12,500 officers are being retrained. Steve Chapman explains further.

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