Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force, by David Klinger, explores the effects that shooting a deadly weapon will have on law enforcement officers. The author interviews over eighty men and women from a number of police agencies spread across four states. He conducts these interviews to note the pre and post mental conceptions police officers have after shooting a gun in the line of duty. Klinger shares his interviewees’ stories in the novel to show readers how pulling the trigger of a gun can cause a variety of issues both within and outside of a police officer’s life.
The novel begins with the author’s own experiences as a law enforcement officer and his ideals on the use of deadly force. He explains that “at some deep subconscious level humans are both drawn to and repulsed by violence of any sort” (Klinger, 2004, page 8) and goes on to elaborate why the killing of a human being by an officer is acceptable in the eyes of society today. Even though this truth may seem harsh to some, the overall effects that occur when an officer fires his gun is even harsher when the light of reality is shed upon these gruesome incidences. As the novel continues, Klinger begins to share more information about the career that these few men and women choose to go into. The author describes how many of his interviewees were asked when applying to law enforcement agencies how they would feel about having to shoot someone. Most answered they would not feel any sort of hesitation, yet some men and women in their interviews with the author revealed that they never thought about themselves in that situation and were somewhat taken back by the question. Moreover, Klinger explains that shootings are uncommon incidences in the police world, but “the fact that the ability to kill is a job requirement in a variety of ways” (Klinger, 2004, page 16) in the law enforcement field.
Continually, as the novel progresses, Klinger explains the requirements of becoming a police officer and the necessary training it takes before a person can step out on the streets. There are many ways for a rookie cop to be trained and each police agency can structure their field training to however they would prefer. After they have been trained, the men and women who have passed all the various requirements immediately begin their duty as an officer. In their training, these officers are told when and where to shoot their guns, and “because legal and administrative deadly force standards are so broad” (Klinger, 2004, page 57) these young officers are forced to make the decision of when to fire their weapon. However, when learning when to use their guns, all officer trainees are made to understand that using their gun is only for the intention to harm and not kill. While reading the stories of the men and women interviewed, readers can see just how prepared these young officers are when they enter their career.
When an officer pulls the trigger, it is justifiably right...