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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Another Word on Police Brutality

Disclaimer: I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Disclaimer: I am pro-cop. Well, I'm pro-good cop.
Disclaimer: I am as anti-gun as they come.

I've seen a lot of emotional calls to action, logical breakdowns of fact, and mixes of the two. I have seen liberals and conservatives duke it out on social media for supremacy of opinion. And I am exhausted by it.

I don't want to write that long of a post here, I just want to say what I really think about the problem of police brutality in this country.

Being in a police officer is dangerous. But it's not the most dangerous job in the world by any stretch of the imagination. It's also a choice. If you do not want to put your life on the line every day, perhaps you are better suited to a job that is not often dangerous or life-threatening. No matter how noble your intentions are, every time you put on your badge and walk the streets, you are not just enforcing the law and protecting the innocent. You have pinned a shiny gold target to your chest. And no matter how race relations change in this country, that will always be an immutable fact.

I read a lengthy post from a police officer about how black-on-black crime is a much larger problem than cop-on-black crime. (I'm not even going to get into how the only reason that's a problem is because of systemic discrimination and abuse, because it would take too long). I've read articles stating that more white people have been killed by police than black people and about how Latinos are killed in almost the same numbers as blacks.

That information doesn't matter to me, and here's why.

Police should NEVER shoot to kill.

The problem of police brutality is racial. We need to stop dancing around that. There's way, way more statistical information to back up the fact that blacks are more frequently harassed, verbally abused, physically attacked, tasered, and yes, shot and killed by police than whites, even while unarmed. But statistics can be biased. Statistics can be misleading. What we can calculate is how often police have killed people, regardless of race.

And no matter what number you get, if it's larger than zero, we've got a problem.

Police will argue that if their lives are in jeopardy, they have no choice but to shoot. And I would agree that if your life is threatened you should be able to defend yourself. But there are so, so many jobs with equal or greater danger posed by other human beings where killing is not an option. Think of a social worker. Think of an orderly in a mental hospital with violent patients. These are people who walk into equally or more dangerous situations as police officers every day, but with no guns. They have to subdue violent people or escape violent circumstances without killing people all the time. So why do the police kill so often? When a social worker enters a dysfunctional home to remove children from the care of an unfit and abusive parent, they know that there's a chance the situation will escalate to the violence. But do they walk in with a gun in their belt, hand already gripped around the trigger? No. They don't.

I am of the controversial opinion that our police force should not be armed at all and that no civilians should be allowed possession of guns. I hate guns. I really, really hate them. I think the second amendment is just as outdated as the Three-Fifths compromise, and that if the greatest threat to your civil rights is having your gun taken away, then your life is pretty good. I think that in other countries, where the police forces are far less heavily armed and there are next to zero fatalities caused by police, they've got it right.

But I know that the United States is way too gun-happy--and that many members of the government are too far in the pocket of the NRA--to get rid of guns in the way I'd like.

So I just want to say this: bad cops need to figure out a way to stop killing people. Black and white and everyone in between. This is a heavily racialized issue, and I wish people would stop trying to deny that, but it's also just a purely human issue. Our police forces are practically military in their armaments, and they seem way too quick to pull triggers and end lives. If police officers are going to be armed, the gun needs to be the last resort, and it should never be used to kill. There are ways to disarm dangerous criminals without shooting them.

The police have to do their jobs without committing murder. There are so many good cops out there, and just a few bad ones who slaughter innocents and criminals alike. The God complex has to stop. The bloodshed has to stop.

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