by Michael Morgan


An applicant stood before the long curved table sweating and slightly out of breath. The physical fitness part of the application process had just wrapped up. One by one, the applicants now faced the Review Board. A seven-member panel of senior Police Officers whose job was to pepper each applicant with questions intended to learn how the applicant behaved under pressure and to judge their ability to apply the law.

“You seem pretty calm under the circumstances,” the first Sergeant began.

The applicant shrugged, “I’m normally fairly easy going.”

“What would get you really upset? I mean to the point of losing control.” the sergeant leaned back in his chair.

The applicant thought for a moment, “Probably my partner getting hurt more than anything else.”

A different Officer perked up, “Ok. Let’s say you and your partner are on patrol in a residential neighborhood. You stop a 1985 Nissan hatchback for running a stop sign. You and your partner get out of your car and approach the suspect vehicle. When your partner reaches the driver’s side door, you hear a shot and you see your partner fall down. The Nissan’s driver stomps the accelerator and the car takes off. What do you do?”

“A question, if I may?” the applicant asks. At the Officer’s nod, “This department issues 9mm pistols with hollow-point ammunition. Is that correct?”

The Officer looks confused, “Yes, that’s correct.”

“In that case, I would put out a call with the suspect vehicle’s description to get more police involved, and go see if my partner needs an ambulance. Based on my partner’s condition, I call for medical or we get back into the chase.” The applicant relaxed confident in his answer.

“So you wouldn’t shoot at the suspect vehicle?” the sergeant joins the fray.

“No I would not,” the applicant replied.

The Officer came right back, “You just told us that having a partner get hurt would potentially make you lose control. Care to explain why you wouldn’t shoot at the car?”

“My department issued weapon and ammunition are not adequate,” the applicant responded. “At the Academy we studied the topic in some detail. The vehicle you described has a lot of sharply angled glass and metal surfaces. According to the lessons, the probability of a bullet penetrating into the vehicle is much lower than the potential for the bullet to ricochet off the car body.” The applicant paused for breath, “You said this was going down in a residential neighborhood. If my bullets bounce off the car then they are flying into the neighborhood, and I’m more of a danger to the public than the bad guys in the car. Therefore I would not shoot. With a different weapon, my decision may be different.”

The sergeant leaned forward with a sad fatherly expression, “Son, don’t you think a car with bullet holes would be a lot easier to find?”