WASHINGTON December 17, 2014 – On the cover of the December 11, 2014 issue of The Economist, the renowned financial publication tackles a different type of pressing issue, by posing a very simple, and direct question: “What is wrong with policing America?”
While it surely seems like a complicated issue, steeped in rhetoric and questions about liberty versus security, the problem facing the policing of America is actually very simple. It boils down to just one, easy to remember word: Accountability.
There is little to no accountability out there for police officers, or any political authority figure, who abuses their power to the detriment of the citizens. However in the case of police officers, there seems to be an inability or unwillingness on behalf of the state, or police departments, to hold officers accountable for mistakes which end up costing individuals their lives and livelihoods.
One of the most prominent reasons that the problem of accountability has been seemingly addressable is that it is seen nationally as a problem of race. Individuals such as Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton preach that whenever a black man is shot by a white police officer it is the most grievous of crimes, and that all people of color should demand justice.
That is part of the problem, those who make the most noise about police brutality and accountability are those who profit from its continuation. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and those like them, profit from the racial divide in America, and because of this racial divide we will not be able to hold those police officers who tarnish the reputation of their departments accountable for their actions.
We have heard the stories of Michael Brown and Eric Garner on the news. Their stories have dominated the cycles for months now, fueling the fire of hatred and dividing many Americans on issues such as race and police powers.
For many, the issue of police officers killing unarmed black men is an advantage to be pressed. And in pressing the issue as a cop on black matter, they disregard the instances when unarmed white men have been gunned down, or summarily executed by police for simple standing around or mining their own business.
- In Utah, a grand jury refused to indict officers in the shooting of 20 year old Dillon Taylor, who was unarmed when he was killed . He was white.
- On December 10, it was announced that the Maryland police officer who killed Ethan Saylor, a 26 year old man with Down Syndrome, would not be indicted. Saylor refused to leave a movie theater after attempting to see another showing of Zero Dark Thirty, the police were called, and Saylor was killed when his larynx was crushed. He was white.
- In April of this year, John Winkle, a 30 year old who once worked as an editor on the Comedy Central show Tosh.0, was mistakenly gunned down by police during a hostage situation. Winkler was unarmed, and he was white. As of now it is unclear if any indictments will be handed down, though a $25 million lawsuit has been filed by the family of the deceased.
- In 2011, an off duty officer shot and killed a recently returned Marine over the alleged utterance of a racial slur. The officer was black, the Marine was white. There were no charges for the killing.
These examples, and the examples of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old-boy killed by Cop in Ohio and Jonathan Ferrell, shot by Charlotte, NC police while seeking assistance following an accident, go to providing evidence of a glaring and obvious truth.
Police violence is not a black problem, or a Hispanic problem, or a white problem, it is an American problem.
Individuals such as Al Sharpton who exploit the instances of police killings of blacks do so to the detriment of solving the issue in the first place. It profits individuals like that to exploit the race struggle, it benefits them to make the issue about race because without the race struggle they find themselves without influence or power.
It also benefits the government.
As long as they can make the issue about race, and the media refuses to cover instances of police brutality against whites, then the government will never be held accountable for their actions. The police officers of this country are here to protect us, they are on the streets to deter crime, and to provide a safe environment to live in and thrive in. They are dedicated, and they are professional. But just like any profession, in any field, there are those who do not belong, there are those who make mistakes. However in the profession of peace officer, when those mistakes occur, or when those errors in judgment take place, it can lead to the loss of life and that is where there needs to be accountability.
However that accountability will never arrive, that level of responsibility will never take effect, if Americans continue to believe that this brutality and injustice is only perpetrated on one segment of the population. The solution will never be found if Americans believe, or are led to believe, that the problem of police brutality and lack of accountability is not their problem in the first place. A single, unified, powerful American voice crying out for change in the face of the killings of so many of our young people at the hands of those who are supposed to be protecting them is what is necessary. It is what is required.
People need to understand that the police officers of this country are citizens too, and many are most likely upset about the brutality. Those who wish to fix this problem would do well not to demonize and alienate those who are not part of the problem. It is simply that those in law enforcement who break the law, or who make a mistake which results in the loss of life or property, are held accountable for those losses. And we can only do that as a nation, if we wake up to the fact that the problem is one that we all face as a nation, and one which we all must work to fix.
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