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Police officers need to become more attuned to a rarely considered threat: their fellow officers, says an editorial on PoliceOne, a site aimed at law enforcement professionals.

In addition to a growing number of police impersonators, there have been several incidents so far this year where actual officers have been shot by their comrades, including one in January where a Santa Maria, CA officer was shot and killed by fellow officers attempting to arrest him at a DUI checkpoint. One SWAT officer was reportedly shot twice by friendly fire in two different incidents six months apart.

But such activities aren’t entirely new, PoliceOne writer Ken Hardesty shares. He tells a precautionary tale from 1983, when the teenage son of a San Diego Police Department officer stole his father’s uniform, gun, and patrol car while his parents were away and picked his friends up for a joy ride.

After Officer Kirk Johnson observed the individual in uniform in a park with what turned out to be his two friends, he went to provide backup, thinking a confrontation was ongoing. Instead, fearing the repercussions from getting caught, the teen shot and killed Johnson with his father’s police issue weapon. An investigation continued for a month under the presumption Johnson had been murdered by a fellow officer until a witness provided the clues that led back to the teen.

Hardesty urges commanders to spend more time discussing such risks with officers during meetings, a practice he says has faded in an attempt to avoid damaging morale.

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Comments

Visduh April 13, 2012 @ 11:23 a.m.

That killing was so unnecessary (nearly all killings are), and could have been avoided if the deputy had not taken his green-and-white home. Then he goes on vacation and the kid drresses up as a cop and heads out in the car. Did Duffy stop letting the deputies take cars home after that? Uh, not in any way that was apparent.

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SurfPuppy619 April 13, 2012 @ 12:43 p.m.

I know TONS of deputies that take cars home, on gov paid gas and expense. Goes on unabated.

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Twister April 14, 2012 @ 7:21 a.m.

Not enough information to pass judgment here. There are advantages to taking patrol cars home. Still, the practice should be studied to reveal how the pros and cons balance out.

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