Since October 2012, I have been working on research involving fifty cop-killers to test a theory that I have developed. I believe that it is possible that cop-killers are innately human after all and can be understood from a clinical and sociological examination. They can't all be sociopaths. I will not defend their actions, which are brutal crimes. But, perhaps-- if we take the time to look at all the data-- we will learn that they are driven by certain factors that have already been identified by other experts in psychology and criminology. I believe these factors are based on their life experiences, maturity (age), and phase of life.
Let me give an example: psychologist Erik Erikson believed that life could be examined as a series of struggles. For adolescents (age 12-18), the struggle is to develop a clear sense of identity. Failure to do so results in role confusion. The adolescent asks: who am I and what do I believe in? They try on roles, hair colors and groups of friends with conflicting values. If they cannot figure it out, they cannot progress to adulthood.
What about teen cop-killers? Did their acts of violence in police stem, in part, from the basic struggle of all human beings to understand who they are and how they fit into the world in this difficult phase of life? Each of the six teen cop-killers in my study was a member of a street gang. How did this inform the development of their identity?
Likewise, Erikson defines that the struggle for young adults is to develop successful relationships with other people, including romantic affiliations and friendships. The young adult asks: who can I love and who will love me? Would it surprise you to learn that most cop-killers in this age group were involved in a disastrous or obsessive relationship that was imploding just before they chose to commit a murder of a police officer? It's true, and this information can help police better understand what kinds of factors reported to police while enroute to a call can help them anticipate a dangerous confrontation.
Can a closer examination of cop-killers reveal anything about their motivations? I believe the answer is yes, and I plan to share my findings in my new book on cop-killers.