Every time there is a high profile officer involved use of force in America, we are bombarded by politicians, activists, and talking heads of all sorts who bemoan the lack of accountability from law enforcement agencies. The moment an incident like this occurs, many take to the streets and the airwaves and demand “justice.”
Like clockwork, politicians trip over each other to get in front of a camera and relentlessly spout statistics they offer as iron clad proof that the law enforcement profession is dedicated to the decimation of all non-white inhabitants of America.
Despite their inability to offer any real solutions, they are eager to offer incessant rhetoric and political spin, which virtually without exception, places the blame for all of societies’ ills solely at the feet of law enforcement officers.
Ironically, many of these politicians have been in office for decades and have made no substantive efforts to make life better for minorities they say they are concerned about. Instead, they pass the blame, hoping no one will notice their own culpability.
There can be no doubt that conflict between the police and some communities, particularly communities of color is very real indeed. It is not imagined, nor is there an easy solution.
It is a complex issue stemming from centuries of mistrust and misunderstanding which can only be overcome when all involved in this relationship are willing to put aside their misconceptions, prejudices, and preconceived notions and honestly seek a resolution, which may include adjustments to their own behavior as well.
Any successful solution has to include every stakeholder: politicians, police, clergy, community leaders, and community members. Without an honest assessment of responsibility that each of these groups must bear for the present conditions, there is no chance for any substantive improvement to the relationship between the police and the communities they serve.
Far too many of the stakeholders in this relationship have absolved themselves of any responsibility and insist that the law enforcement profession alone bears the burden to create a harmonious relationship with the community. This idea is not just unreasonable, it is ridiculous. And it is the chief reason why there never seems to be any substantial improvement in police/community relationships.
In America, we have tasked our police officers with patrolling some of the most violent neighborhoods in the world. There are quite literally cities in this country that are far more dangerous than overseas combat zones.
Every day we ask police officers to confront and manage some of the most dangerous human beings on the planet and it is not altogether uncommon for some of these violent sociopaths to leave officers with no choice but to use deadly force.
Most of the time our police respond to this challenge with excellence. Occasionally they fail to meet expectations.
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
Many point to controversial uses of force as proof that the police are rarely held accountable for their actions. However, this argument falls flat. The fact is, most of these “controversial” events, when thoroughly examined with unbiased evaluation, are found to be lawful uses of force.
In fact, by any reasonable standard, the vast majority of instances of police force are justified. In almost every instance that is used to exemplify “police brutality” there is a common theme: the subject involved is actively and aggressively resisting the officer.
As unfortunate as the result may be, active resistance by a suspect significantly increases the likelihood of a negative outcome. Any attempt to judge an officer’s use of force must take into account the behavior and resistance of the subject. It is impossible to assess reasonableness otherwise.
Accountability is not the problem. There has never been a time in our nation’s history that law enforcement has been more accountable than present day. We cannot ignore the number of times a police officer has been charged for killing a black person in recent years.
Let’s not forget, George Floyd, Laquan McDonald, Walter Scott, Anthony Hill, Gregory Gunn, Daunte Wright, Cory Jones, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and Jordan Edwards, just to name a few cases that have occurred in the last few years.
In each of these cases, an officer was arrested and charged with a crime. In some, the officer was convicted and is currently in prison. Some cases have yet to be concluded. In the Castille case, the officer was acquitted.
That’s how the system is supposed to work. That is justice. That is accountability.
No, Accountability isn’t the problem. On April 20, 2021 a former Minnesota officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd. At the conclusion of his trial when the judge read the verdict, the defendant calmly stood and placed his hands behind his back in order for the Sheriff’s Deputy to place him in handcuffs.
I have to wonder if some of the aforementioned might still be alive today if they had simply done that. What might have happened if they had complied?
Are there things that we could do to improve police/community interactions? You bet there are, but we can’t do it alone. It will take a cooperative effort by all stakeholders and quite frankly I am not sure that all involved are willing to take a share of that responsibility.
While there is no shortage of those willing to assign blame for the problems we face, there seems to be less enthusiasm for putting in the work to make things better.
But let me issue this challenge: let’s fix it. Let’s agree to work together to ensure the safest and fairest relationship between police and all communities. Let’s stop pointing fingers and assigning blame; let’s put aside our political agendas and fix it.
It might mean that all of us have to admit we have been wrong about something. It might mean that we have to care enough about our community to sacrifice some of our time, resources, and energy to make things better. It might mean that some of us have to give as well as accept some apologies; some of us may have to forgive and some may have to ask for forgiveness.
It could mean that we have to establish partnerships with those with whom we have had conflict in the past. It could mean that everyone has to let go of their preconceived notions and acknowledge that despite our differences we have been created in the image of God, and for that reason alone we all matter.
Would the effort be worth it? You better believe it would.
Will all Americans accept this challenge? I hope so… but I am not so optimistic.
Submitted by: Shane Tucker
Shane Tucker is an active law enforcement officer and has 21 years of law enforcement experience. During his career, he has had a wide variety of assignments, which include Patrol, SWAT, Investigations, Narcotics and Internal affairs. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in religion and a Master’s degree in criminal justice, both from Liberty University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.