Hard to Understand
I have come to realize something that is still hard for me to understand to this day. The following may be a shock to some coming from an African American, but the mere fact that it may be shocking to some is prima facie evidence of the sad state of affairs that we are in as humans.
I used to be so torn inside growing up. Here I am, a young African-American born and raised in Brooklyn, NY wanting to be a cop. I watched and lived through the crime that took place in the hood; my own black people killing others over nothing. Crack heads and heroin addicts lined the lobby of my building as I shuffled around them to make my way to our one bedroom apartment with six of us living inside. I used awake in the middle of the night by the sound of gunfire, only to look outside and see that it was two African Americans shooting at each other.
It never sat right with me. I wanted to help my community and stop watching the blood of African Americans spilled on the street at the hands of a fellow black man. I became a cop because black lives in my community, along with ALL lives, mattered to me, and wanted to help stop the bloodshed.
As time went by in my law enforcement career, I quickly began to realize something. I remember the countless times I stood two inches from a young black man, around my age, lying on his back, gasping for air as blood filled his lungs.
I remember them bleeding profusely with the unforgettable smell of deoxygenated dark red blood in the air, as it leaked from the bullet holes in his body onto the hot sidewalk on a summer day. I remember the countless family members who attacked me, spit on me, cursed me out, as I put up crime scene tape to cordon off the scene, yelling and screaming out of pain and anger at the sight of their loved ones taking their last breath.
As a result, I never took it personally since I knew they were hurting. Moreover, I remember the countless times I had to order new uniforms, because the ones I had on, were bloody from the blood of another black victim … of black on black crime. I remember the countless times I got back in my patrol car, distraught after having watched another black male die in front me, having to start my preliminary report something like this:
Suspect – Black/ Male, Victim-Black /Male.
I remember the countless times I canvassed the area afterwards, and asked everyone “did you see who did it,” and the popular response from the very same family members was always, “F*** the Police, I ain’t no snitch, I’m gonna take care of this myself.”
This happened every single time, every single homicide, black on black, and then my realization became clearer.
I woke up every morning, put my freshly pressed uniform on, shined my badge, function checked my weapon, kissed my wife and kid, and waited for my her to say the same thing she always does before I leave: “Make sure you come back home to us.”
I always replied, “I will,” but the truth was I was never sure if I would.
I almost lost my life on this job, and every call, every stop, every moment that I had this uniform on, was another possibility for me to almost lose my life again.
I was a target in the very community I swore to protect, the very community I wanted to help. As a matter of fact, they hated my very presence. They called me “Uncle Tom,” and “wanna be white boy,” and I couldn’t understand why.
It was my fellow black men and women attacking me, wishing for my death, wishing for the death of my family.
I was so confused, so torn; I couldn’t understand why my own black people would turn against me, when every time they called … I was there. Every time someone died … I was there. Every time they were going through one of the worst moments in their lives … I was there.
So why was I the enemy? I dove deep into that question. Why was I the enemy? … Then my realization became clearer. I spoke to members of the community and listened to some of the complaints as to why they hated cops. I then did research on the facts. I also presented facts to these members of the community, and listened to their complaints in response.
This is what I learned:
Complaint – Police are always targeting us, they are always messing with the black man.
Fact – A city where the majority of citizens are black (Baltimore for example) … will ALWAYS have a higher rate of black people getting arrested, it will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks getting stopped, and will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks getting killed.
And the reason why is because a city with those characteristics will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks committing crime.
The statistics will follow the same trend for Asians if you go to China, for Hispanics if you go to Puerto Rico, for whites if you go to Russia, and the list goes on. It’s called demographics.
Complaint – More black people get arrested than white boys.
Fact – Black people commit a grossly disproportionate amount of crime. Data from the FBI shows that Nationwide, Blacks committed 5,173 homicides in 2014, whites committed 4,367.
Chicago’s death toll is almost equal to that of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined. Chicago’s death toll from 2001– November, 26 2015 stands at 7,401. The combined total deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2015: 4,815) and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan (2001-2015: 3,506), total 8,321.
Complaint – Blacks are the only ones getting killed by police, or they are killed more frequently.
Fact – As of July 2016, the breakdown of the number of US citizens killed by police was, 238 white people killed, 123 black people killed, 79 Hispanics, 69 other/or unknown race.
Fact – Black people kill more other blacks than police do, and there are only protest and outrage when a cop kills a black man.
University of Toledo criminologist Dr. Richard R. Johnson examined the latest crime data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports and Centers for Disease Control and found that an average of 4,472 black men were killed by other black men annually between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2012.
Professor Johnson’s research further concluded that 112 black men died from both justified and unjustified police-involved killings annually during this same period.
Complaint – Well, we are already doing a good job of killing ourselves, we don’t need the police to do it. Besides they should know better.
The more I listened, the more I realized. The more I researched, the more I realized. I would ask questions, and would only get emotional responses and inferences based on no facts at all.
The more killing I saw, the more tragedy, the more savagery, the more violence, the more loss of life of a black man at the hands of another black man … the more I realized.
I haven’t slept well in the past few nights. Heartbreak weighs me down, rage flows through my veins, and tears fills my eyes. I watched my fellow officers assassinated on live television, and the images of them lying on the ground are seared into my brain forever.
I couldn’t help but wonder if it had been me, a black man, a black cop, on TV, assassinated, laying on the ground dead, would my friends and family still think black lives mattered? Would my life have mattered? Would they make t-shirts in remembrance of me? Would they go on TV and protest violence? Would they even make a Facebook post, or share a post in reference to my death?
All of my realizations came to this conclusion: Black Lives do not matter to most black people; only lives that make the national news matter to them; only lives that are taken at the hands of cops or white people, matter. The other thousands of lives lost, the other black souls that I, along with every cop, have seen taken at the hands of other blacks, do not matter.
Their deaths are unnoticed, accepted as the “norm,” and swept underneath the rug by the very people who claim and post “black lives matter.”
I realized that this country is full of ignorance. It includes educated individuals viewing the ratings-driven news media, and watching a couple YouTube video clips, and then come to the conclusion that they have all the knowledge they need.
They now feel qualified to know what it feels like to have a bullet proof vest as part of your office equipment, “Stay Alive” as part of your daily to do list, and having insurance for your health insurance because of the high rate of death in your profession.
They watch a couple videos and then they magically know in 2 minutes 35 seconds, how you are supposed to handle a violent encounter, which took you six months of Academy training, two or three months of field training, and countless years of blood, sweat, tears and broken bones experiencing violent encounters and fine tuning your execution of the Use of Force Continuum.
I realized there are even cops, COPS, duly sworn law enforcement officers, who are supposed to be decent investigators, who will publicly go on the media and call other white cops racist and KKK. This is based on a video clip they watched thousands of miles away, which was filmed after the fact, based on a case where the details aren’t even known yet and the investigation hasn’t even begun.
I realized that most in the African American community refuse to look at solving the bigger problem that I see and deal with every day, which is black on black crime taking hundreds of innocent black lives each year. Instead, they focus on nine questionable deaths of black men, when some were in the act of committing crimes.
I realized they value the life of a sex offender and convicted felon, [who was in the act of committing multiple felonies: felon in possession of a firearm-FELONY, brandishing and threatening a homeless man with a gun – Aggravated Assault in Florida: FELONY, who resisted officers who first tried to taze him, and WAS NOT RESTRAINED, who can be clearly seen in one of the videos raising his right shoulder, then shooting it down towards the right side of his body exactly where the firearm was located and recovered] more than the lives of the innocent cops who were assassinated in Dallas protecting the very people that hated them the most.
I realized they refuse to believe that most cops acknowledge there are bad cops who should have never been given a badge & gun, who are chicken s*** and will shoot a cockroach if it crawls at them too fast, who never worked in the hood and may be intimidated.
Furthermore, they refuse to believe that most cops dread the thought of having to shoot someone, and never see the turmoil and mental anguish that an officer goes through after having to kill someone to save his own life.
Instead, they believe that we are all bloodthirsty killers, because the media says so, even though the numbers prove otherwise.
I realize they truly feel as if the death of cops will help people realize the false narrative that Black Lives Matter, when all it will do is take their movement two steps backwards and label them domestic terrorists.
I realized that some of these people, who say Black Lives Matter, are full of hate and racism. They possess hate for cops, because of the false narrative that more black people are targeted and killed. Racism against white people, for a tragedy that began 100’s of years ago, when most of the white people today weren’t even born.
I realized that some in the African American community’s idea of “justice” is the prosecution of ANY and EVERY cop or white man that kills or is believed to have killed a black man, no matter what the circumstances are.
I realized the African American community refuses to look within to solve its major issues, and instead makes excuses and looks outside for solutions.
I realized that a lot of people in the African American community lead with hate, instead of love; division instead of unity; turmoil and rioting, instead of peace.
I realized they have become the very entity that they claim they are fighting against.
I realized that the very reasons I became a cop, are the very reasons my own people hate me, and now in this toxic hateful racially charged political climate, I am now more likely to die, … and it is still hard for me to understand … to this day.
Jay Stalien grew up in the “hood” in Brooklyn, NY. He watched out-of-control black-on-black crime from childhood. As an adult he wondered who would help bring the violence to an end, so he stepped up to become a police officer. He began his career with the Baltimore Police Department before a lateral move to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he works as a police officer.
Editors note: Jay was a guest on the Law Enforcement Today Radio Show. You can listen to the interview below:
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