Military, Police, the use of Deadly Force and Administrative Leave / by kevin murray

The average age of a military recruit in America is probably just under 21, to which you can with parental consent be eligible to join the military as young as age 17.  AS for police recruits, most police departments prefer that eligible police officers either have achieved a four-year college degree, and/or are veterans of military service before they apply to become a police officer, therefore, the average age of a police recruit is probably in the mid 20's, and is certainly higher than those recruited for the military.  It can be said that there are few military recruits that are ex-police officers, whereas there is a substantial percentage of police officers that have previously served their country as members of the military.


While in both professions, military as well as in police work, you may go your entire service career without having to discharge your weapon in either self-defense or in a deliberate act of deadly force to take the life of another, the fact of the matter is, that the mission of a military recruit, in times of war or combat, is dramatically different than a police officer's mission which is usually stated as being to protect and to defend the community.  A military soldier, will by definition, is given instructions to kill the enemy, whereas these orders, will seldom, almost never, be given to a police officer.  When a police officer actually engages in deadly force, as a matter of public policy, for virtually all police departments, he will subsequently be placed immediately on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation, and upon clearance will return to active duty, having availed himself of mandatory professional psychological counseling as well as peer review.  


However, in regards to a military soldier and his use of deadly force we find that during the exigencies of war, there is seldom even the opportunity for said soldier to disengage from an active battle or from his duties to his fellow soldiers, his mission, and the overall necessary cohesion of all those involved.   This means as a matter of policy, that soldiers who are younger in age than police officers, have less life experience than police officers, are much more likely to have to use mortal force against an enemy in combat, as well as subjecting themselves to the line of fire in return.  The obvious and frightful conclusion is that our soldiers at a younger age, are subject to far more stressful situations, than our police officers, yet neither administrative leave or counseling is something that they can avail themselves of in any sort of timely manner.


America has the second largest active military force in the world today, and since the end of World War II, has only engaged in war with countries that are far smaller in size especially in regards to personnel, equipment, experience, and sophistication.   This means, that the United States as a matter of policy, should actively manage their military personnel in such a way so that when deadly force is utilized, that its personnel having done so, can avail themselves at the earliest possible time of the necessary investigation of actions taken on the military field, as well as psychological counseling, and peer review.  We, as the richest country in the history of the world, owe that duty to our soldiers, so that when their service on behalf of their country has been completed, they are able to return to life in America, with the reasonable hope that they are well and able.