Do you trust the police to protect and serve? | The Tylt
Do you trust the police to protect and serve?
Despite video evidence of his murder, the two police officers responsible for Alton Sterling's death will have no charges filed against them. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry determined the officers' actions were "well-founded and reasonable," because they believed Sterling was reaching for a gun.
"This decision was not taken lightly. We came to this conclusion after countless hours of reviewing the evidence," Landry said.
Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by one of two police officers who confronted him outside a convenience store in July 2016. Cell phone video showed Sterling, a black man, pinned to the ground by the white Baton Rouge police officers before he was shot; police said Sterling was shot because he was reaching for a gun.
Many are outraged by what they view as another failure of the justice system, an institution meant to uphold the law and hold wrongdoers accountable. If police officers aren't going to be held responsible for their actions, how can communities trust them to protect and serve?
Louisiana AG says that Louisiana Dept of Justice can't proceed with a prosecution of the officers responsible for fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.
The shooting of unarmed African Americans is a crisis issue that is tearing apart families and communities.
The issue of trust and law enforcement is one that has been building for years, and research suggests the heightened tensions between communities and police only lead to further trouble. Retired police officer Dr. David J. Thomas argues law enforcement must regain the trust of the public if police officers wish to protect and serve effectively. Incidents that rally Black Lives Matter activists only add fuel to the fire and deepen public mistrust in law enforcement.
We work for the citizens in our communities, and we do not have the luxury of selective policing. Such thinking is destructive, and we are no more entitled to respect than the citizens that we serve.
Policing is hard work, and there are instances in which use of force will be necessary, but officers should remain committed to exercising restraint as often as possible.
I have trained police recruits and officers since 1980 in all aspects of the use of force. The one thing that has remained constant is there is no magic skill-set that allows police to take a combative citizen into custody without potential injury to the citizen, the officer, or both... When citizens don’t comply, we often become angry, impatient, more aggressive. We escalate matters by shouting even louder. When the citizen fails to comply, we get angry and force the situation, which in several instances has resulted in the use of deadly force.
What might work is a change of strategy, especially if we have the advantage, of taking our time, lowering our voices and explaining what we need. It is my belief that when processing loud verbal commands and a firearm pointed in their face, many citizens become scared or even disoriented, police or not.
But others argue police have an exceptionally difficult job, and they are being asked to do the impossible. The reality is, the use of deadly force by police officers is extremely rare. We see the most extreme cases in the media, but they are in no way reflective of the day-to-day encounters police officers have with members of the community they serve.
Trust between law enforcement and citizens is a two-way street. How can officers do their job effectively if they are viewed as enemies of their communities?
In the case of Alton Sterling, officers were specifically responding to a call about a man with a gun. It was reasonable for them to assume their lives were in danger, and the Lousiana Attorney General clearly agreed.
Labeling cops as "racist" only creates further divisions and does nothing to solve the problem. Trusting law enforcement is a solid first step for those looking to improve community relations and ensure that officers are in fact empowered to protect and serve.
Alton Sterling had a loaded gun in his pocket which he was trying to reach for while resisting arrest.