Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bad Decisions

What makes people make bad decisions?

God knows I've made more than my share in my life. But none of them--thank God--have resulted in the end of my life. Yet.

Early this morning, though, two people made bad decisions that ended theirs.

A Toledo Police Department detective, working undercover in the vice narcotics division, and his partner stopped and attempted to arrest two people who were apparently engaged in suspicious activity.

Both men fled. The police detectives chased them. One of the suspects turned and fired at the detective chasing him. The detective was struck in the chest and killed. He was not wearing a bulletproof vest (undercover police officers usually don't).

This detective was the first TPD officer killed in the line of duty in more than 36 years.

The suspect in the shooting has been arrested. He is 15 years old. If tried as an adult and convicted, he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

I will mention no names in this entry. If you're curious, go to The Blade's website and find the answers for yourself.

I mention no names because that is not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is why people make bad decisions.


Why would two highly experienced police detectives stop their car at one in the morning in a cold and heavy fog to spprehend two people?

Why would a 15 year old white male be out on the streets at one in the morning apparently attempting to buy or sell drugs? With a gun?

Why would said suspect not only flee from a police officer, but then turn and fire on him?

And, more importantly, why do people make bad decisions that can lead to the end of their lives? Is this a conscious choice? Or is it instinct?

Have we, as human beings, truly not progressed further, emotionally and intellectually, than the first neanderthal in prehistoric times that bashed his fellow neanderthal over the head in order to steal his fresh kill?

Can we ever become better than that? Are we not capable of making good decisions in times of crisis?

As much as I would like to say yes, the truth is that throughout the course of history, bad decisions have outnumbered good ones by a considerable margin. And the only reason that we as a race have not destroyed ourselves many times over is because at several key points in history people have made good decisions.

Whether this was by the grace of some Higher Power or simply the result of enough good people being in the right place at the right time, we may never know. We can only hope that the trend continues.

In the meantime, I will mourn the loss of an experienced police detective, who leaves behind a wife and two children. And I will mourn the loss of the life of a young boy on the cusp of adulthood, who may never again experience another day of freedom.

Both of them made bad decisions. Only one will have to live with it.

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