The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Evaluating a Situation

I'm sure everyone has heard the saying "If you see something, say something," from various public safety campaigns. After all, why wouldn't you want to call the police if you see something suspicious; the worst that can happen if you're wrong is a minor inconvenience or a little bit of embarrassment and then everyone goes home, right?

Turns out reality is a bit more complicated than that. There's a lot more that can be lined up on the list of potential negative outcomes, unfortunately.

This shouldn't come as any surprise, either. Editorials like this one from the New York Times are quite common, as are the news stories they cite, as are the testimonials, arrest records, and surveys they're based on. And yet people still insist that this is how the system is supposed to work, or that the trouble caused by overly suspicious citizens and police is worth it.

I don't agree with either. Even if the police reacted appropriately to being called out to investigate every situation, it would still waste resources to call them out for every little thing. There has to be a balance between being so suspicious that we're wasting time and resources and being so apathetic that we're missing legitimate threats. And we're definitely not at the right balance between suspicion and apathy when someone calling the police because a fellow student fell asleep in the common room is regarded by many as a routine, unavoidable event.

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