Accountability as the enemy of prevention

This paper argues that the current single-minded focus on legal and administrative accountability following police shootings ignores the equally important objective of preventing future shootings. It applies several concepts from the safety field — root cause analysis, organizational accidents, and sentinel event review — to illustrate how a stronger emphasis on prevention could be achieved. The author doesn’t suggest that “individual police officers should escape responsibility for their actions. But our current relentless focus on accountability – while an understandable human reaction – has become the enemy of prevention in the very communities that need it most.”


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