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Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking in cops' shoes -- in the line of fire

I'M WALKING the beat with Officer Casey when the 911 call comes in.

Disturbance. Downtown. Hurry.

We rush to the scene and enter a crowded restaurant, our hearts racing. At a far table by the window a man, 40ish, is arguing with a woman sitting across from him.

An object in his hand catches the light.

"Seattle police!" Casey barks. "Put down the knife! Put down your knife!"

The man turns to look at us. He says he just wants to talk to her. Casey, turning red from anxiety, draws his service revolver from his hip and takes aim.

"Put down the knife! Put it ..."

The man ignores the command 16 times. He stands up and inches closer to the woman, keeping his eyes on us. In a blink, he wheels around and plunges the knife into her.

Casey fires.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

Bullets blast his back. Too late.

"Damn," Casey says under his breath. He turns and sighs: "Can I try again?"

Welcome to the police world of second chances.

Officer Casey isn't really a sworn Seattle officer -- he's my colleague, P-I crime reporter Casey McNerthney.

The restaurant is actually a video projection on a giant screen in a high-tech Seattle Police Department simulator in Tukwila. We wanted a taste of what goes through an officer's mind in the heat of the moment -- in high-stress, rapidly unfolding encounters that involve the use of force. [Mark Godsey]

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