To Steven Hildreth, Jr.

Subject: To Steven Hildreth, Jr.
From: Tom Deteich
Date: 1 Nov 2015

I just read Kathrine Wood's open letter. While I understand her point of view, she completely misses Mr. Hildreth's point. No, just being respectful of police officers won't change the outcome of every police encounter. However, being respectful of our police is a simple and very powerful way to change most encounters with police officers. More important, such an approach would have resulted in far different outcomes in many of the very bad encounters our society has experienced recently.
Had Michael Brown walked away from the police officer instead of engaging and, according to the breadth of the evidence, attempting to take his weapon, he would be alive today. This statement and Hildreth's point are not about whether or not the police were right or wrong in these instances, they are about how we as a society choose to solve such disputes about who is right and who is wrong. Do we grab the police officer's weapon? Do we hit the police officer? Do we resist arrest? These actions almost certainly result in a worse outcome than the one that would occur if we follow Mr. Hildreth's approach.
This is not about the blame game. Consider that police officers are in high stress situations often, particularly when in high crime neighborhoods which are statistically most likely to be Black neighborhoods. Most of the time they manage that stress. Sometimes they do not. How many of us who manage stress very well day in and day out end up in a simple traffic dispute and find ourselves completely out of character and in a rage. Now think about cops who are in such situations day in and day out, and one in a thousand encounters things go wrong. Justify the failure? NO of course not, but understand it for what it is.
Human beings in highly stressful situations, even when well trained, will fail expectations over time. Mr. Hildreth gives us a way to increase our odds for a better outcome. It really is that simple.