We MUST help the police save lives – Part 2
If we don’t help the police the killings will not decrease. We have an American crisis that needs regular citizens, elected officials, law enforcement leadership, unions and clergy to have all hands-on deck. While black Americans may be disproportionately impacted, white and Hispanic Americans are being killed too. Tears are not black or white. Tears taste salty for everyone.
As we have always done in this country, when there is a crisis we rise up and come together as Americans. We must all strive to maintain America’s greatness.
An article in the Washington Post, Fatal Shooting by on-duty officers: An analysis, highlights that between 2005 – 2015, 54 officers were charged for fatally shooting someone. Of the 54 charged (see part 1):
- “more than three fourths of the officers were white;
- two thirds of the victims were minorities (all but two of them black);
- nearly all other cases involved black officers who killed black victims….”
The Post article highlights that in the vast majority of cases the victim was unarmed. And most of the time that was not enough lead to an officer being charged. The article goes on to highlight that by time a prosecutor would press charges against an officer there was often a video recording of the shooting, victim was shot in the back or testimony from other officers.
The main question that prosecutors have to ask and answer themselves before charging an officer is, “can the evidence disprove the officer’s story that he was defending himself or protecting the public?”.
Even after an officer is charged most juries are hesitant to convict a police officer. “Most laws that apply to on-duty shootings require jurors to essentially render a verdict on the officer’s state of mind: Was the officer truly afraid for his life or the lives of others when he fired his weapon? Would a reasonable officer have been afraid?”
The answers may lie in the outcome data of the 54 officers charged: 35 had their cases resolved (21 of those were acquitted or had charges dropped). Six who were convicted received on average 3 ½ years in jail.
America has a problem. While our leaders, public health experts, clergy and citizens develop long term solutions we as citizens have to do our part. We must all become more familiar with who are local officials are for our area. Does an elected official appoint the chief of police? We must know the police chief for our area. Who is the captain in charge of the area where we live…? etc. I ask each of you to reach out to our community police officers and set up quarterly “get know” sessions for your communities. Finally, we must all register to vote.
As citizens, we have to help the police. A simple traffic stop or a domestic call should not be the first time we come in contact with our local police officers. Request for community meetings and share your concerns while also asking the police what we as citizens can do to help them as well. We must all work to decrease citizens being killed by the police killings. It is doable! The police have managed to decrease the number of police deaths by over 80%. We can do this too.