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A New Face: Officer Kimberly Munley November 6, 2009

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Current Events, Ethics, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Philosophy of Gender.

 On a regular basis we discuss the concept of heroism—loosely defined as people stepping up to the plate and acting to help others in need, endangering their own lives—in my Intro to Values classes, evaluating the concept in light of Psychological and Ethical Egoism as well as the various forms of Altruism, Utilitarianism, and Deontology.  And it looks as if we have a new name to add to the list of, shall we say, ordinary people who act decisively, and save lives. Whether we want to use the term “hero” of course depends on how we define it, but what an opportunity to discuss the concept, again! As the news is beginning to pour in, this is the story so far, of the police officer who shot the Fort Hood gunman four times yesterday, putting an end to his killing rampage. Yesterday we heard that she had been killed, but today we know that she survived, and will be returning home:

Here, from NewsPostOnline:

Civilian police officer Kimberley Munley was the one to put an end to this horrifying ordeal. Munley was directing traffic until she heard shots being fired. Military spokesmen. Lt. Cone said Munley and her partner responded within three minutes of the gunfire. Munley, who had been trained in active-response tactics, rushed into the building and confronted the shooter as he was turning a corner, Cone said. “It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer,” Cone said. Munley shot the gunman four times despite being wounded herself.

And from The Guardian:

Munley was only a few feet from army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan when she opened fire.

Munley was reported to be in a stable condition at a local hospital.

She was well enough to spend last night phoning fellow officers to find out about casualties in the attack, the New York Daily News reported.

Cone said Munley’s aggressive response training taught her that “if you act aggressively to take out a shooter you will have less fatalities”.

“She walked up and engaged him,” he said. He praised her as “one of our most impressive young police officers”.

Woman hero Fort Hood1 Kimberly Munley: Hero of the Fort Hood Shooting Rampage

Some might say that it is significant, perhaps a sign of a new era, that it was a fast-acting civilian female police officer who saved the lives of military men. But as was pointed out yesterday, those military men under fire did not have access to weapons, being on-base. And Officer Munley will probably say that for her it was simply a matter of doing what she’s been trained to do. The story may change as it unfolds, and more facts may be added. But right now it looks as if a dreadful situation could have turned even more deadly, had it not been for Officer Munley and her partner.  So is Officer Munley a hero? Let’s say we need to understand the situation a little better before we use the H-word. But did she do something heroic? It certainly looks that way.



1. Crystal Hensley - November 9, 2009

Kimberley, as well as everyone else who acted quickly to save the lifes of those injured is a hero in my eyes. Munley acted to this horrific situation quickly and did what she was trained to do, knowing her life was very much in danger. Her act of bravery saved many lifes and for this reason she should be recognized as a hero. However, many people were involved in saving the lifes of those who had been injured and I believe that these people are just as brave and courageous and should be recognized as well.

2. Richard Gilbert - November 9, 2009

America LOVES to throw the word “HERO” into any situation and any story! I do believe this police officer acted heroically! However, I guarantee you that if you ask her yourself her reply will be “I was just doing my job.” Most of America forgets that people such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, ect. ect. ect. are heroes ALREADY! She did her job and she did is quickly just like she was trained to do! She did accomplish the mission and she did prevent others from being harmed. I believe she needs a medal or award of some sort! It’s very sad to hear that was injured at the same time. Many times when you engage your target lethally it does not die and it can still return fire! I am very happy to hear she was able to impact her target with 4 rounds! That tells me she did not hesitate and she was not afraid of using her weapon! Thank God for the everyday hero’s that society overlooks until something drastic like this happens!!

3. Nina Rosenstand - November 9, 2009

Crystal and Richard,
Perhaps the designation “Hero” can only rightfully be applied to people who gracefully decline the title, claiming that whatever extraordinary thing they did wasn’t much, or that they were just doing their job. And indeed, those people generally go about their everyday business, being just as reliable and quick-thinking in the smaller things—it’s just that they don’t show up on the radar unless they become the buffer between other people and tragedy. That’s in effect Aristotle’s theory of the virtuous person: not just in extreme situations, but in all of life’s aspects.

4. Vanessa Islas - November 16, 2009

I agree with Richard, I think if you ask her yourself if she thinks she’s a hero I’m sure she would say she was just doing her job. But considering the situation she could’ve just ran in the opposite direction of where the shooter was hoping that she wouldn’t get shot, instead she “rushed into the building and confronted the shooter as he was turning a corner.” Yes she was doing her job but think about how many people would actually run towards a shooter who had already killed many people and risk getting killed themselves? I believe Kimberly is a hero. What I don’t understand though is that in the NewsPostOnline it states that “Munley and her partner responded within three minutes of the gunfire.” Her partner? Why didn’t her partner get recognized as well? Or anyone else who were involved in saving the lives of those who have been injured? It goes to show that society doesn’t recognize everyone who should be considered a “Hero.”

5. Joey LiMandri - November 30, 2009

If I were to write an article about this officer, I wouldn’t use the word hero. I felt what she did was an extremely heroic deed. Let’s say the gunman went on an hour-long shooting spree. If she was sitting on the sidelines for 45 min, then decided to intervene, would she be called a hero then? It takes tremendous courage to do what she did. By not calling her a “hero” I’m not underestimating her heroism; I’m simply not designating such a powerful word for a service any one of those men would have performed. However, this is where it gets interesting. Could she be called a hero if she was indeed the only one to act out of her group of soldiers? Plato once asked, “Do we think the wives of our guardian watchdogs should join in whatever guardian duties the men fulfill, join them in the hunt, and do everything else in common?” I’d say yes. It doesn’t matter who you are; as long as you perform a noble service, it should be acknowledged. On second thought, she is a hero. Firefighters do their jobs everyday and are called heroes, so why can’t she be called one?

6. Charlotte Ferguson - December 1, 2009

I think the lady officer was a hero. Then she was trying to save her own life as well as the rest of the peolpe on the base. I think she might have been scared to react. I know being an officer your job is to shot to kill. I think alot of men were upset that it was a women who took the guy out. I know alot of men think women can’t kill or shot anyone because we get to emotional. I glad she was not to scared to do her job plus save her own life. I don’t know if I could do her job everyday. Not knowing what may come at you . Could you have been ready to deal with the crazy shotter. I don’t know if I really could of. But we never know what might happen. So we need to always be ready. Yes she is a Hero for being on her toes and not being scared to do her job. She was trained to deal with all problems that may occur and she listen and did her job.. Go girl..

7. Olivia De Ramos Phil 102B - December 8, 2009

I would definitely say that Kimberly did a heroic deed and that she should be praised and called a hero. The definition of a hero is this: a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. In my opinion, anyone who is brave enough to risk their own life to save others definitely fits into the “hero” category. Most people in her situation, knowing that there is going to be a person on the other side of the door with a loaded gun would think twice, maybe three times before they run in to danger. They strange thing about the word “hero” is that we only call someone a hero when they do something worthy enough for the title. But the dangerous jobs like law enforcement or firefighters, all though are indeed a heroic job because they’re meant to help anyone in need, should be always referred to as hero jobs. Why isn’t it that we don’t call them “Police hero”, or “Fire hero”, but instead we just call them “fireman” or Police man”

8. Randy phil 102b - December 8, 2009

What Kimberly did that day was no doubt a great thing indeed but as has been mentioned before, she was just doing her job. She was doing what she was trained to do, what she gets paid to do, and what she was expected to do. And you know what, she was on a base that had thousands of individuals that would have or may already have done what she did. Like it was mentioned in the article, if those soldiers had had access to their weapons they would have done the same thing. But these were soldiers who served in Iraq and Afganistan, they’ve been through combat, and endured it for months and months but they wont get anywhere near the publicity that Kimberly is getting. And if you ask them if they think they are heroes they all will tell you the same thing, “I was just doing my job.”

Did she do a heroic thing? Yes. Is she a hero? No more than the combat soldiers that were wounded, the medics and doctors that fought to save their lives, or the numerous other people that go unrecognized. So if you are going to label someone a hero you should also realize that their were many more that day.

9. Haley Schimmer - December 9, 2009

I think Kimberley’s act can certainly be called heroic. Just because she is a women and her act may be justified as doing her job, doesn’t mean that it didn’t take courage to step forward and fire her weapon. If it were a male police officer, people would still be calling him a hero. I don’t think it would be looked over as many may think it would. However, I don’t know if I would go as far to say “a new era” because I believe that women have always been capable of heroic acts, and it wasn’t until the past few decades that women were able to join the police force. Maybe it is considered a new era because people love to blow up the story of a woman saving the lives of men, and that of course could also be the result of how women are still depicted by some vulnerable, fragile, kind, etc. Especially by today’s media

10. Leyden Daniels - December 9, 2009

I think the term “Hero” is used loosely, but with good reason. These stories on the news, web, or by word of mouth do more for the community than for the person who committed the heroic act. Munley’s actions were brave and this deserves the title of hero. But I do believe her story, the stories of soldiers who come home, or any other individual of valor play a key role in boosting national morale. Today we live in a world that operates within the realms of sarcasm, pessimism, and cynical ideas. So in a sense Munley’s true heroic deed is not that she saved lives but that she serves as a representation of hope. She is a hero because she is now a source of inspiration.

11. C. Silva T/R 102B - December 10, 2009

Munley’s actions and intentions were truly heroic, but are we labeling the wrong Sergeant with the prestige of being an American Hero? Is this another embellished story similar to that of Jessica Lynch scenario for PR and politcal purposes because “Woman Saves Ft. Hood” makes a better cover story? According to the New York Times and Time Magazine, a witness has come forth stating that the shots that took down Nidal Hasan came from Sgt. Mark Todd. Munley was almost instantly shot, and as the suspect was reloading a magazine Sgt. Todd took fire, and cuffed Hasan. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120360644)

Early interviews indicated that Munley took down Hasan, and I actually watched her interview on Oprah. Munley did all the talking and Todd remained rather quiet. Later reports states “Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, another civilian officer in Fort Hood’s police force, are credited with shooting Maj. Nidal Hasan to end the Nov. 5 shooting spree” (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121061127)

Again, and never the less, Munley’s intentions were heroic, but if this new information is factual–regardless of what her intentions were during the shoot out–taking the recognition from the man who performed the heroic acts in which she is being credited for will tarnish my opinion of her.

12. Michael Breault - December 10, 2009

I would absolutley consider Kimberly Munley a hero. Who knows how many more people that crazed gunman would have killed if Munley had not gotten to him first. Many people say that since that is her job she isnt necessarily considered a hero. I believe a hero can be anyone. A doctor that saved somebody’s life just by prescribing a medicine is considered a hero to me. No the doctor didnt do anything heroic necessarily but he did make the difference between that person living or dying.
To go after a gunman that had already fired off several rounds at innocent people and put your life on the line (whether its their job or not) is absolutley courageous and I do not see how anybody could discredit Musley as a hero.

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