Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, two sons of the Jim Crow era, are ignoring a real and rapidly expanding issue in America. Police brutality and unnecessary deadly force have taken the lives of far too many African Americans without justice. Women, children, elderly and unarmed, all have been victims of a rogue segment of police officers, who’ve proven to be at best unfit for duty and at worst callous murderers with a badge.
Like a horrific recurring nightmare, the same case is played out on a national stage. An African American citizen is involved in a confrontation with police that could be handled mercifully but somehow ends up dead. The advent of video in these cases has been of no use.
Incredibly time after time America is told that what appears to be an execution is explained away as proper procedure. Officers across the country invariably have learned to utter five simple words -I feared for my life- and they’re handed a get out of jail card. We as witnesses to improper behavior and military tactics are informed that we shouldn’t believe our own eyes.
The Trump regime has pledged millions of dollars to curb violence against law enforcement, prison construction, and mass incarceration. Meanwhile, they sit idly by, without comment, as people of color are slaughtered in their own streets. We are left to wonder if Trump, whose Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, a White Nationalist, and Sessions the former senator from deep south Alabama are carrying out a purposeful bigoted agenda.
There is no right way for people of color to respond when engaged by police. We have learned we can be killed while driving away, reaching for identification, walking away, standing still with our hands up, face down on the ground and a host of other nonthreatening ways. What we’re seeing is a culture of cowardice.
Being a police officer takes a special set of skills. Bravery, intelligence, patience and a keen ability to rapidly assess situations and communicate. Departments need officers who are quick thinkers, not quick to pull the trigger. It’s not a profession to join for a paycheck.
There has to be more stringent federal guidelines for hiring and training of officers. Rigorous psychological screening must be instituted to ensure mental and emotional fitness for duty. Departments need to invoke “Open Door” policies. Officers must be encouraged, not vilified, for voicing concerns about colleagues that may be unfit for police work. The blue wall of silence must be eradicated for the thousands and thousands of outstanding officers not to be painted with the same broad brush of malevolence. Finally, when an officer clearly has gone afoul of the rules of engagement, they must be punished swiftly and harshly. These rogue officers create an atmosphere of distrust and tension within the communities that they serve.
All Americans have a right to feel that law enforcement is there to protect, not maim and murder. Citizens of all races must put pressure on our elected officials to advocate for our civil rights and put an end to the overly aggressive, cold-hearted extermination of people of color at the hands of law enforcement.