Police officers are trained to serve and protect the community, but this week’s arrest of a Metro officer for choking a man to death could affect other cops on the beat.
The question tonight: will they second-guess their actions?
On Thursday, 34 new Metro correction officers graduated. Many could eventually patrol the community from the strip to the suburbs.
Just like Officer Kenneth Lopera, who used a fatal chokehold.
It’s a job that requires decisive action in a moment’s notice.
At least one retired sergeant says other officers might now be questioning their use of force to stay away from scrutiny.
“In one hand it’s a flash, and in another, it’s an eternity,” said Clarke Paris, former LVMPD sergeant.
Paris says he’s done many takedowns. He followed guidelines and used force when needed.
He says recent news of LVMPD Officer Lopera facing involuntary manslaughter charges could have officers second guessing their behavior in critical moments.
“I don’t want to go through what this officer’s going through. Will this cause more of them to think that way? Probably,” Paris said.
Investigators say Officer Lopera used a rear naked chokehold which is a violation of policy.
UNLV Director for Crime and Justice Policy Bill Sousa says research shows the public believes in the good work officers do to protect their community.
“The public generally has a very high degree of confidence in police. What’s interesting is police don’t always believe that the public has a great deal of confidence in them,” Sousa said.
However, he says more research is needed to see the effects of incidents like these on other law enforcement.
“While some of these activities might be on the minds of these officers there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that their behavior will change much,” Sousa said.
He says department morale could also be impacted by situations where officers might not feel supported.
As for retired officer Paris, he believes the scrutiny of police can take a toll on even the best on the force.
“Certainly when an officer gets arrested for what they do on duty that could be an accident it makes everybody stop and think,” Paris said.
UNLV Director for Crime and Justice Policy says police departments are now having more difficulty recruiting.
Among the reasons why: the increased scrutiny of policing.