Denver trauma surgeon shares perspective on policing

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DENVER (KDVR) – A world-renowned trauma surgeon is sharing his support for law enforcement. Dr. Eugene Moore has been a trauma surgeon at Denver Health Medical Center for 45 years. He interacts with police officers every day and has even saved some of their lives. Now he wants the community to know all the good work they do to keep people safe.

“I feel incredibly compelled to tell their story and represent them because no one else is. We’ve seen the problems our community has and that are ubiquitous in our country. Unfortunately, we continue to have escalating violence and crime and therefore I strongly believe we need an intact police force,” he said.

Moore offers a unique perspective on what police officers do and the challenges they face.

“I think the police are put under extremely stressful conditions, and have to make rapid decisions, some of which may mean their life or not. I’ve taken care of a number of them, who have been shot, intentionally run over by cars, I’ve gotten to know them, I’ve gotten to know their families,” he said.

Moore denounces the actions of the police in Minneapolis and said police can and must do better.

“We’ve had bad incidents, we need to correct them, we need to prevent them, but let’s not dismantle the police service that keeps our community safe. Certainly the death of George Floyd is reprehensible and the actions that led to that should be investigated thoroughly and that event be prevented in the future if at all possible. Unfortunately, in this politicized world we live in right now, I’m not blaming one side or the other. It seems like we can’t have a civilized discussion about any debated issue. The rants to defund the police is one of those issues in an arena that there isn’t a balanced discussion about how to solve the problem.”

He sees similarities between the police and medical professions and suggests police could benefit from peer reviews.

“Just as we physicians sit down every week, talk about our complications, bad outcomes and determine if things could have done better. If there are systemic issues, they are reported on to committees who oversee those, and we proceed with corrective action. What I think we learn from medicine is the most powerful tool to improve our performance is peer review. Has to be candid, has to be depersonalized, but the most incentive you can get to improve your performance is to have one of your peers say, ‘Hey, you could’ve done better.'”

But he said that would take more money, not less.

“I wouldn’t defund the police. I would actually augment their funding to allow for educational processes and peer review that allow them to optimize the quality of the performance on the streets. It shouldn’t be impulsive, radical decision making. The rhetoric of defunding police is absolutely insane. I can’t understand it,” he said.

He said officers should be given the opportunity to improve.

“There’s no question we have problems in our culture in the United States. There would be no one to deny there’s racism and we need to eradicate it. But I think defunding police goes back to the German saying in the 1500s, ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ That’s exactly what we’re doing.”

He worries that limiting police on the streets would lead to increased violence and trauma.

He said, “For example, during COVID over the last three months, I ride my bike to work and I’ve seen innumerable drivers go right through stop lights, and nearly run over people because they know the police are not out there on the streets during COVID time.”

Moore wants to spark a civilized discussion about how to move forward. He hopes both sides take some time before rushing into decisions that could make matters worse.

Moore knows he is just one voice, but he does not think he is alone.

“I frankly think I represent the silent majority… most police — virtually all — are very good police. So I think they need to look to trauma surgeons and emergency physicians who see and interact with police every day, who bring in violence and crime, both victims and perpetrators. I think they need to hear from us. I would be surprised if there isn’t uniformed respect from us what police do in our community.”

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