Sadly this is a topic and reoccurring problem in our country: Police lethal use of force. Let’s just stop and think about that for a minute. Police are using deadly force in our country, consistently and among the top 5 in the world for doing so. Our police forces are also becoming more and more outfitted with “toys” from the military. Let’s take another moment to let that sink in. Our Police forces are being outfitted with military equipment, equipment that Soldiers are given to accomplish tasks like demolishing buildings with armored/lightly armored vehicles, sustaining incoming RPG, and mortar fire, and various other small arms combat situations.
Last I checked America wasn’t a warzone, our city streets weren’t being invaded by foreign military powers, and the average US citizen doesn’t own, carry, or have a means of procuring an RPG, Mortar, or .50 caliber rifle. Unless I’m mistaken we already have the armed services, a state Guard, and a national reserves, so why do we need to have a fourth militarized entity in our country? Don’t officers swear to protect and defend the citizens, and uphold the law? I’m pretty sure only the military raises their right hands and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and to protect her citizens from threats both foreign and domestic. Not Police officers.
So since there is a distinction from military and civil police forces then why on Earth are the local police departments being outfitted for a war? Furthermore if they are acting like military why aren’t they being held to the same standards as the military? Whenever shots are fired by a security forces (military police) member, that member must file a report detailing precisely why that shot was fired, and account for each bullet fired. There’s also an extensive tracking procedure and policy governed by the DoD to verify the location, and possession of all firearms and ammunition at all times. There is also annual firearms training, safety briefings, and use of force classes that are mandatory for service members who carry firearms, that is a prerequisite to carry firearms of any caliber at any time. Why then is this such a hard concept for civil police forces to accept, and implement or to be held to? Wouldn’t all of these high profile killings of Michael Brown, and Eric Garner be much less of a “controversy” if there were more safe guards in place to track, and monitor use of force and arms?
The second part of this argument that needs to be addressed is what exactly is the defined scope of concern for police officers? I mean if there’s justifiable cause for precincts to have military grade arms, and vehicles then why aren’t these things more heavily regulated and tracked? If police are being trained in firearm safety, and use of force then why is there not a system in place to justify the use of force at whatever level it was used? IN fact there are a myriad of solutions to these problems available and being used at this moment: police cameras. Along with handcuffs, a radio, a gun, a flashlight, and their badge all Police officers should be issued a police camera to document their goings on while on duty. Police cruisers are already equipped with cameras for this purpose and have been invaluable in many cases of hit and run, police officers being assaulted, and many other situation besides. This would establish an undeniable snapshot of the events as they transpired that would be admissible in court and assuage any concerns of wrong doing or wanton use of force by having that footage readily available.
So once we establish what purpose a police officer serves, and how to hold officers accountable (not necessarily meant derogatorily) we then need to enforce these laws, and ensure justice is served. When there is footage of wrongdoing, whether it be on the part of the officer or the perpetrator, which should be held as fact not as questionable testimony (Eric Garner case). The other aspect that needs to be addressed is that the law applies to everyone equally and at all times, and courts do not have the right to abuse their positions to create a favorable or desirable outcome that suits their individual agendas. Furthermore if courts are found guilty of such acts they should be removed from the legal process, fined, and imprisoned for wrongful use of power, and abuse of the system. What we need is an actual enforcement of laws, not more laws to cover up mistakes of other laws. We need laws that are only open for interpretation in the most extreme of circumstances, and that even then all parties are held equally accountable to them. I have no idea why this simple truth is so hard to actually make a reality? Why is it so hard to do the right thing and hold people accountable for their actions (good or bad). Race, discrimination, abuse of power, media bias, all of these things are all parts of the problem but neither is the solution. We are all American’s we all have to abide by the same laws, and those laws should apply to all of us equally.
We can sit here for days and talk about statistics, and demographics or we can acknowledge that we as American’s have some social problems that need to be addressed as an American problem, not as black problem, or a white problem, or a police problem, or legal, or political. We are all in this together and we only have ourselves and our neighbors to depend on, why should we focus on alienating ourselves from one another? Why are we encouraging organizations that are supposed to serve the people abuse their authority? Why does a legal system that cares more about appearances than justice continue to exist? It’s because we as a nation have let these things come to pass, it is high time we make a change. The Ferguson protests, and the “my hands are up” movements aren’t necessarily what I’m talking about.
Protesting done peacefully is a hugely successful method of changing policies and effecting change in a community, but there’s a fine line between protesting, and rioting, and they are no interchangeable. Once a group of protestors becomes violent they are in the wrong and hurt their own cause. However look at all of the successful protests in the past couple of years alone! We have ended the XL pipeline, stopped the taxation of internet, brought racial discrimination to the national stage, and created a political awareness on many issues that would otherwise have been ignored: education costs, healthcare costs, and bipartisan disruption in politics! We have been making a difference for years, our voices have caused waves in politics for decades, we have the power to influence our world what we need now is to stand together as Americans! We need to be united as countrymen not as whites working together with blacks, but one American working together with another American to make the social changes our country desperately needs! Let us be on the right side of history, and leave a better tomorrow for our future generations.