Featured case: Detective Casey and the April 2010 Shooting:
Impact of Training, Communication, and Coordination of
Critical Incidents in Policing

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The case

Who – the protagonist

Keith Casey, undercover narcotics officer and point person for the Emergency Response Team.

What?

The point person is the officer who most often has to make split second decisions. When the SWAT team initiates a raid, it forms a single-file line known as a stack. The officer chosen to run point is the officer that enters the residence first and neutralises any suspects encountered during entry.

Why?

Detective Casey was called to an incident involving a barricaded suspect, Donald Hoffman, at 8.30pm in the evening.

After negotiations broke down at 4.10am the next morning, Detective Casey and the SWAT team were sent into Hoffman’s home, where he was holding a gun. Ignoring orders to drop his weapon, Hoffman was struck down by Detective Casey, which was eventually declared as a good shot by the Attorney General’s Office.

Lacking the proper support from his office in the aftermath of the shooting, Detective Casey struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and had to retire. He believed his superiors didn’t know how to handle the critical incident or how to communicate with him, as no one in the department had previously been involved with a shooting.

In addition, Detective Casey’s training consisted of 18 weeks at the Police Academy, on the job training, and completion of a 40-hour basic SWAT course, but according to him, this only involved simple information about what may occur following involvement in a shooting or critical incident.

When?

The shooting took place in the early hours of the morning of 25 April 2010.

HammontonWhere?

Hammonton, a town in Atlantic County, New Jersey, US.

Key quote

“Prior to the incident, Keith was outgoing, friendly, and socially engaging. Since the incident, he has limited his social activities and has become somewhat introverted. Keith’s demeanour has become more serious and stern as a result of the event.” – Dr. Gary Glass, the office of county management’s Forensic Psychologist.

What next?

Was the training and communication in preparing officers for critical incidents of an adequate standard? What’s the importance of dealing with psychological and physiological responses related to trauma issues?

 
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Detective Case and the April 2010 Shooting: Impact of Training, Communication, and Coordination of Critical Incidents in Policing
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Teaching note
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The author
JoyJones

Joy Jones

Joy talks about investigating officer-involved shootings, passionate discussion in the classroom and changing negative perceptions.

Bringing an important issue to attention

Joy said: “Despite widespread attention on police bias and discretion, little attention has been placed on officers who pull the trigger and the events that follow, including identity issues if the officers retire, role conflict, and family and relationship issues. 

“My husband retired from law enforcement after his involvement in a shooting several years ago, and the events of that night dramatically changed his life and the lives of his family members. My husband is one of the original members of a support group in Atlantic County, New Jersey that offers programming and support for officers who have been involved in critical incidents. 

“Police shootings have been prevalent in American news reports, and because of the relevant nature of this topic, many students have mentioned officer-involved shootings in discussions in my classes. I decided it was time to investigate a case of an officer-involved shooting further and to develop a teaching case to allow students to think critically about all sides of the issue.”

Fruitful discussion

She continued: “This teaching case has resulted in rich and sometimes passionate discussion in the classroom.

“The topic is robust, which allows students to explore many directions. In discussing this case, my classes have talked about role conflict, cognitive dissonance, crisis communication, the importance of training and realistic job previews. Perhaps the most emotional topic is the one related to implicit bias.

“When I discuss this case, whether at conferences or in my classrooms, people often assume the suspect was an African American male; however, the suspect was a Caucasian American male. Not only is it interesting that individuals bring race into the equation when it is not a factor in this case, but it also prompts the discussion of how the case would differ if race were a factor or if the case occurred in a different culture or country.”

Importance of research

Joy added: “I could tell Casey was emotional when discussing the events of this case. Reliving the experience was not easy; however, Casey noted that although he often avoids discussing his involvement in a critical incident, talking about the shooting is somewhat therapeutic. 

“Researching this case allowed me to see a more humanistic side of police. I have been married to my husband for six years, and prior to meeting my husband, like many Americans, I had a negative perception of police. Obviously, when I met my husband I thought he was a good person, but it was easy to say, "He isn't like the others”.

“Investigating this case allowed me to research shootings and critical incidents as well as police training. I have grown through my research because I have learned that the protagonist in this case is not an exception to the rule. My view of the police has been altered to an understanding that most are good; however, there are a few who use their power unfairly.

“As we say in journalism, "If it bleeds, it leads." Therefore, we hear about bias police officers and those who use power unfairly because that is the current perception, and this is the story of interest to readers and viewers. We rarely hear the other side of the story – about officers who are good and who do care about the people they serve.”

rich dataRich data

She concluded: “This case was written with the support of a Case Writing Scholarship from The Case Centre. The Scholarship helped me purchase articles used in my research and other clerical costs.

“After completing and piloting this case in several classes, the data was so rich that I decided I needed to present the information. The Scholarship helped me present my research and case at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference in New Orleans in February 2018, where I presented on the importance of utilising teaching cases in teaching difficult criminal justice topics.”

About the author

Joy Jones is Assistant Professor of Business Studies and Management at Stockton University.
Joy.Jones@stockton.edu

 

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