Mexia News Editorial: Arlington chief makes right call

An Arlington, Texas police officer was fired Tuesday, four days after shooting and killing an unarmed teenager during an alleged robbery.
Even with details of the shooting still being sorted out, the Arlington chief's decision was the right one, and an example departments across the country should follow.
The firing was not over a white officer shooting a black teen. The firing was because the officer made poor decisions – decisions that violated department policy – leading to a deadly encounter.
We should never minimize the stress and anxiety officers must go through in the line of duty. It is something most of us will never understand. But departments have strict procedures and policies in place because of the gravity and cost of this kind of mistake.
For most of us, a mistake on the job can be irritating, embarrassing and can cause some headaches, but it rarely has the potential to result in a loss of life.
The chief summed it up well when he said, "Decisions were made that created an environment of cascading consequences and an unrecoverable outcome.”
The officer pursued the teen inside the dealership when he was not supposed to. He didn't have to. Procedures dictated he not do so. He put himself in danger without other officers present and ignored the rules.
Then he was forced to make a split-second, life and death decision and it went wrong. At that point he was probably thinking of his own safety, which is only natural, but that is exactly why he should not have put himself in the situation.
We have a bad habit of acting like a teen, or anyone else, who breaks into a business or home is getting what they deserve, but that is not a good excuse for someone to die. We once valued human life more than that.
Teens especially make terrible decisions. The hope is that we can help them navigate those decisions and mature past them. When an unarmed teen is killed over such a bad decision, there are likely other bad decisions being made, by adults who we expect more from.
It is a burden we place on our officers. We admire them, respect them and recognize the difficult circumstances they work under. But if we can't expect more and hold them to a higher standard, they should not serve our communities as armed police officers. The responsibility is too great to not be handled with the utmost respect and care.
We love to expect the teen who is lying dead on the ground to have made better decisions. Why shouldn't we expect better of the train officer as well?