Shoot? Don't shoot? Can I choose none of the above?
There's a reason reporters are armed with pens, not guns -
Its my first day as a police officer, and already Im walking into trouble.
From the sound of it, theres a nasty domestic disturbance going on behind the wooden door in front of me.
I try to remember the advice of my trainer, Eric Logue, a corrections deputy who helps teach new officers about firearms, and when to use them.
I remember that if I discharge my weapon, Ill be asked to prove intent, opportunity and capability to show that my shooting was justified.
In other words, can I prove that the suspect is planning to hurt me or another (intent), that the threat is imminent (opportunity) and that the person actually has the means to follow through (capability).
But as I cross the threshold into the gloomy room, the only thought left in my head is: Dont screw this up.
The couple in front of me is yelling. The woman clutches a newborn baby to her chest, while the man is screaming something about who called the cops.
I try to remember what police officers sound like on CSI, but before I can say anything, the man is throwing crumpled-up energy drink cans at me. From his behavior, it looks like hes been drinking something a lot stronger.
My gun is out, but lowered, pointed at the floor. I know at this point I should give clear and concise verbals, something like show me your hands or get down on the floor.
The best I can think of is a rather milquetoast. Lets all just take a breather now, OK?
Since I wont take control of the situation, the man does. He grabs the baby from his partners hands, and in one motion throws the child to the floor.
Should I shoot? I dont know. While I hesitate, the mans boot comes crashing down on the babys head. As skull and foot connect, I squeeze the trigger once. Theres a quiet pop, and the man drops to the ground, groaning and clutching his side. Ive been inside the house for 90 seconds, maybe.
Did I do the right thing? Should I have acted sooner?
These are hard questions. Thankfully, I dont have to answer them.
The Glock-like gun in my hands is an imitation, and so am I. Im not a police officer, but a reporter going through the Multnomah County Sheriff Offices Shoot or Dont Shoot simulation.
Its Friday, July 15, and all around kids and families are enjoying the 18th annual Wood Village Nite Out.
The house in front of me is really a utility shed. And while the kick to the head was real, the fake newborns pink plastic skull doesnt have a dent on it.
The husband and wife are actually Angela McCafferty and Cory Gillas, both corrections deputies.
They debrief me after the fact.
I did OK, but say I should have done more to keep the child safe.
As Gillas explains, These things happen really fast. The time and travel from your head to your hand was simultaneous.
Logue, who observed the entire encounter, reminds me that these scenarios happen every day, to real officers trying to keep everyone alive.
Its like Forest Gump, he says. Every situation is different, and you never know what youre going to get.
Me, Im just glad to walk away. Maybe next year Ill try a simulation of the bouncy house.
Zane Sparling is a reporter for The Outlook. He covers Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village and Corbett.