SHOTS FIRED: THE MISUNDERSTANDINGS, MISCONCEPTIONS AND MYTHS ABOUT POLICE SHOOTINGS

In this climate of social, political and racial tension, police officer-involved use-of-force situations attract extreme public and media attention. Some situations are truly tragic and are deserving of scrutiny.

Often, however, the police officers’ versions of events are lost in the clamor, are rarely told, but deserve equal public attention. In “Shots Fired,” retired Portland police officer Joseph Loughlin and local author Kate Flora present a well-balanced depiction of police shootings from the participating law enforcement officers’ viewpoint. In 2006, they wrote the acclaimed true crime story, “Finding Amy.”

Some readers may consider this book provocative and self-serving, others may see it as a tribute to the police officers who protect their communities. Either way, the authors offer no excuses or rationalizations for any officer’s bad behavior or poor judgment. Instead, they present graphic explanations of when, how and why police officers fire their weapons. They also point out that the public rarely hears all the good things police officers do and cannot appreciate the dangers they face every day or the split-second decisions they must make.

They interviewed dozens of officers from numerous departments (in Maine and other states), men and women involved in police shootings, to discover what really happened, what they were thinking and the grim aftermath. They describe officer training, department policies and procedures for de-escalation, uses of nonlethal force and offer detailed descriptions of various police shootings. They tell why they are not trained to shoot to wound or shoot a gun out of a suspect’s hand (this is not Hollywood).

They also describe the dynamics of “suicide by cop,” and why the public rushes to judgment and media hype distorts or ignores the truth, with resulting unjustified anger and unfair treatment of officers.

EVENTIDE

Remember the 1983 movie “The Big Chill,” where a group of college friends gather at a classmate’s funeral to reminisce about the good old college days and question how their lives turned out? Well, this story is just like that, but much more deadly.

“Eventide” is Portland author Kimberley Kalicky’s third book, but her first novel. This is an ambitious tale of psychological suspense and mystery, marital tension and the decisions people make when their options are few and diminishing rapidly.

When three married couples — long-time friends who haven’t seen each other in years — meet in Portland for a weekend reunion cruise aboard a luxurious sport-fishing vessel to Monhegan Island, somebody won’t be coming back.

Evelyn and Bill, Addie and Ted, and Kate and Max are middle-aged now, their youthful optimism long gone, replaced with false pretension, pretending to be happy, content and satisfied. On the surface they all say the same thing, “everything is just fine,” but they know the word “fine” has no meaning anymore.

Their leisurely cruise to Monhegan takes them through the many islands of Casco Bay (with wordy and overly long descriptions), and their bubbly chatter about jobs, careers, adult children and spouses begins to lose some gleam. By the time they arrive at Monhegan tension between and among the couples (disappointment, anger, regrets, resentments, guilt and jealousy) begins to surface.

The accidental death of a newlywed bride in a fall off a Monhegan cliff upsets everyone, but one husband and one wife wonder if the girl’s death was really an accident or murder. After all, accidents can be arranged easily enough. On the nighttime return trip to Portland a storm and rough seas provide an opportunity to make some permanent life corrections — an opportunity not to be missed.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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