The deputy, who was assigned to the school, was behaving in ways typically associated with fear or panic, the lieutenant told investigators. He was moving “back and forth,” talking to himself and “breathing heavily.”
What he was not doing was what the prevailing law enforcement protocol says was his first responsibility: Go into the building. Stop the gunman.
Peterson has been castigated and criminally charged with endangering children and culpable negligence in connection with the attack that left 17 people dead. The case against him is highly unusual and promises to raise all manner of legal questions, such as whether a police officer’s failure to perform as trained can lead to prison.
But it also raises a larger moral question: How much bravery do we expect, or demand, of law enforcement officers? What level of courage rises to the level of heroism — and what is just part of earning the paycheck?
Officers themselves are likely to hear inconsistent or even contradictory messages that may reflect the public’s polarized view of police as protectors or oppressors. Police officers rushed into the twin towers as they were collapsing; they have also shot and killed unarmed people for fear of losing their own lives.
“Every cop has heard some variation of ‘Your first job is to go home at the end of your shift,’ some version of ‘It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six.’ And every cop has also heard ‘You are the heroes; you are the front lines of defense; you are the ones who are supposed to run toward the gunshots,’ ” said Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who now teaches law at the University of South Carolina.
Expectations and training have changed drastically since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when law enforcement was criticized for failing to quickly confront the assailants and 13 people died. Until then, typical police protocol had been for officers to wait for backup, or for the SWAT team to arrive.
Dan Oates, who was the chief of police in Aurora, Colorado, when 12 people died and 70 were wounded in a shooting in a movie theater there in 2012, said officers are now drilled in tactics that put the well-being of hostages and innocents first.
A large facet of the introduction of the fledgling game was Christian missionaries, who were part of the YMCA, or Young Men’s Christian Association. The game’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith, conceived of the sport at what was then known as the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.
To take a round object and throw it into a peach hoop, as Naismith pictured it, could be a character-building endeavor. Soon after he invented it, missionaries began spreading it around the world, particularly in the Far East and the Philippines, in U.S.-controlled areas — a kind of sports imperialism.
The NBA and its players, recognizing the sport’s popularity in the Philippines, have invested time there in recent years. In 2013, the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers played a preseason game there. According to a spokesman for the league, the NBA’s Facebook page has 7.3 million followers from the Philippines, the largest of any country outside of the United States.
This all began in the early 1900s, when basketball was introduced into schools in the Philippines. In 1913, the first Far Eastern Championship Games — an early version of what is now known as the Asian Games — took place in Manila, featuring several East Asian countries taking part in Olympics-style competitions, including basketball.
It was the first of 10 biennial events, before disagreements between the countries disbanded the games. The Philippines won gold in nine of them.
The country’s population took to the sport en masse. In 1936, its national team made the Olympics and finished fifth. At the 1954 FIBA World Championship, the Philippines won a bronze medal, the best finish for an Asian country.
Two decades later, in 1975, the Philippine Basketball Association, Asia’s first basketball league, was created. These games kept the sport at the forefront of Filipino culture and helped grow interest throughout the 20th century.