Damn, There's an Idea! Why Didn't We Think of That?


You might remember when Sammy Yatim was put to death on a Toronto streetcar by a gun happy cop, James Forcillo.  Even though Yatim was alone, isolated on the streetcar and, while armed with a pocket knife, of no immediate threat to anyone, Forcillo fired half his magazine into the young man, dropping him to the vehicle floor, immobile.  Forcillo then paused for five seconds before emptying the remainder of his magazine, another six rounds, into Yatim's lifeless body. Just for good measure, I suppose.

In his defence, Forcillo's lawyer argued that he was only following department guidelines in putting Yatim to death. Really?

There are other approaches. Police chief Louis Dekmar of LaGrange, Georgia, has replaced 'shoot to kill' with a 'shoot to incapacitate' policy.

Louis Dekmar, who has run the LaGrange Police Department for 26 years, is training his officers to shoot for the legs, pelvis or abdomen in situations where they think it could stop a deadly threat without killing the source of that threat. Doing so, he believes, could make a difference in the more than 200 fatal police shootings nationwide every year that involve individuals armed with something other than a gun.

This isn’t the first time Dekmar has championed the unorthodox in LaGrange.

In the late 1990s, he instituted mandatory audio recordings of officer-citizen interactions. In 2004, he began sending his entire force to crisis intervention training so that everyone would know how to de-escalate encounters with people affected by mental illness. In 2009, he purchased body cameras for his officers, and in 2017 he made national headlines for apologizing for his agency’s role in a 1940 lynching — by all accounts, the first time a Southern police chief had done so.


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