Lack of Dispute Resolution Training may be Key to Another Death of Unarmed Man

One of the most interesting phases of these rampant police shootings is the fact that many cannot say what training appears to be missing in today’s police academy training.  Well one of the most important is dispute resolution training.  In this course officers learn many ways to ease control and resolve situation which arises from time to time between citizens.  They learn to carefully listen to all sides and then present a suggestion that can be agreed to by both parties.  This often times will lead to a better relationship between cops and community as well as lower prison population and avoid the need for further actions by law enforcement.  It appears to be this further action which has led to many of these shootings.

An article titled “Police fatally shoot ‘sovereign citizen’ after he refuses to show ID when turning over stray animal” by Travis Gettys for the Raw Story, demonstrates this point quite clearly.  It reports that “Police fatally shot an Alabama “sovereign citizen” Tuesday during an altercation at an animal shelter.  Investigators said 30-year-old Robert Earl Lawrence became disorderly as he attempted to turn over a stray animal about 12:30 p.m. to the Dothan City Animal Shelter when an employee told him he could not leave without showing identification. 
Employees called police, who attempted to arrest Lawrence after they said he refused to calm down.  Police said Lawrence struggled with the arresting officer, who then shot him in the abdomen.  Lawrence died about 9:50 p.m., authorities said.  The shooting investigation has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigations”.   The rest of the article concentrated on Mr. Lawrence’s police record as if that justifies killing an unarmed man.

Here’s where I think knowing how to dissolve disputes may have saved a life.  Mr. Lawrence was there to turn over a tray animal which should be seen as a good thing instead of allowing that animal to remain neglected and uncared for.  He took it to the appropriate place and that should have been that but for some reason he had to show identification for dropping off an animal which I thought was mostly reserved for those claiming or attempting to adopt an animal.  The employees called the police because he got upset and wouldn’t calm down but seriously, when you are asked to provide law enforcement with some form of identification do you not get a little heated but I guess since he was a “sovereign citizen” that is what made the difference.  Now the police arrive and speak to the complaint first to find out why they were called.  After speaking to the employees of the animal shelter, the officer then proceeds over to Mr. Lawrence to hear his side.  Just by doing this, you make those involved feel as if someone is listening which de-escalates the situation a little itself.  After listening to both sides the officer approaches the employees and asks them if they would accept him getting the true identity of Mr. Lawrence and taking his/her word for it.  If this is acceptable then he goes to Mr. Lawrence, calls in all of the information that he gets from him and since he has been in their system, he should be quite easy to confirm.

The employees move on to bigger and better things after getting the identity of the person dropping off  a stray animal and Mr. Lawrence feels like he was victorious because he did not have to show them identification but the most important is the trauma that all of them now have to live with because a life was lost.  The family of Mr. Lawrence now has been given another excuse to hate “real citizens”, the employee that called the police now has to live with the fact of the results of that call for the rest of their lives and this officer now has to see the face of Mr. Lawrence every time he closes his eyes which means less sleep and a few more nightmares.  Now is all this really worth not teaching dispute resolution.  Maybe it is better to ask you this question after you have experienced a traumatic event where a calm, cool and collected mediator could have saved you that trauma.


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