There are a lot of moving parts when an officer responds to a call for help. The officer has to pay attention to what's happening around him, who needs the help and who's causing the problem. All police departments train their men and women. It's up to them to use that training.
Jason Hill has worked in law enforcement 17 years. He's been a part of the Irondale Police Department 11 years. He'd have one way to sum up his career if this was his last day on the job.
"Good. I've made it out alive," said Sergeant Jason Hill.
Men and Women in uniform with a badge and gun, like Sergeant Hill, put their lives on the line.
"That's an every day occurrence. You're one phone call away from a major incident," added Sgt. Hill.
Each call to 911 starts the same. A person asks for help and law enforcement offers help.
"Every situation is unique. There is no routine situation," added Sgt. Hill.
Officers know and live with the understanding at all times.
"If you've got a suspect approaching you, first of all, you are going to utilize verbal commands. If they have ignored those verbal commands, the threat level has just escalated," added Sgt. Hill.
The officer has to maintain order and protect himself. But, remember training.
"You can observe a person's behavior, demeanor and tone. There are so many factors an officer could observe that would be indicators of what that suspect is going to do or might try to attempt," added Sgt. Hill.
Sgt. Hill boils it down to using common sense. He points out officers have only a few seconds to make a decision.
"Officers are placed at a disadvantage because they have to process so much at one time. But, that's where our training comes in and our professionalism comes in," added Sgt. Hill.
What's happening in Ferguson, Missouri has made an impact here. Sgt. Hill told ABC 33/40 the situation has encouraged his team to discuss training and policies during shift changes.