Returning Iraq Veterans Raise New Issues For Police

Police forces throughout the United States are encountering a new concern stemming from the return of police officers who served in Iraq. As Audrey Honig, of the L.A. Police Department notes, “In civilian work, we err on the side of not shooting, in the military they err on the side of shooting. We are very concerned that some officers are unable to make that transition.” In a recent case in Texas, Wayne Williamson, who served n an Army reserve unit in Iraq, began jumping at virtually every unexpected sound and wound up shooting an unarmed suspect during a foot chase. Williamson’s lawyer says “everyone believes he should not have fired” but his client thought he was back in iraq. The Los Angeles Police Department has now encountered several incidents of former Iraq war veterans who are experiencing difficulty in dealing with lethal-force scenarios.

The United States Justice Department estimates over 11,000 police officers have served in Iraq and thus been exposed to rather unusual situations in which the individual has to make immediate decisions concerning his or her life. Fighting criminals in America obviously poses dangers, but they pale compared with what these police officers faced in Iraq. The United States is again living with the unforseen consequences of the Bush fiasco in Iraq.