Home Letter To The Editor Time To Re-Think Our Approach To Policing

Time To Re-Think Our Approach To Policing

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While many have been caught up in a impassioned discussion of race and policing in America, leading several individuals and groups to call for the deconstruction and defunding of police forces in this country I must respectfully disagree with that position.

We have seen dramatic examples of the type of lawlessness and riot that can and does break out when effective policing breaks down. Judging from what I have heard from victims of this type of crime I don’t believe anyone but the rioters and organized crime rings who ran roughshod over an unprepared population would welcome such a proposal.

I do believe however that it is time to re-think how we TRAIN our police and start to think of ways to interact with a civilian population other than to regard them as a possible insurgency force which can only be controlled by military-style authorities. I also believe it is time to reexamine the “shoot until your gun is empty” mentality held by some departments and taught at many police academies. Although I fully believe some people need to be quickly and forcibly detained by an authoritative agency I do not believe they – we – need to be regarded as potential targets and threats.

This year has been specially terrible for both police, who have lost a number of their own in several highly publicized incidents which only dramatize the level of irrationality currently in play in this country as well as for the public they serve — who have had to stand by and watch while officers LITERALLY stood on the necks of unarmed civilians until life left them.

We need the police. But it’s time to fix them and find a way to let them know they are here to protect us and not control us.

David Sanger/Concord

7 COMMENTS

  1. David, Unfortunately your knowledge of police training is lacking. Police are taught to use the minimum force necessary to arrest or control a subject. As per firearms, only the number of rounds necessary to stop a threat is taught. The media is seeking perfection from law enforcement officers when they are in fact human and make mistakes. The George Floyd incident is inexcusable, much like the Rodney King incident was. I was trained at Los Angeles County Sheriff.

    • The media? You mean The People, right? And we know they’re human, that’s why we would expect them to stop when told they are killing a person in front of an entire neighborhood.

    • All due respect Jeff and I’m not trying to call you out for anything — I’m sure you are or were a very fine officer, but I find the “rounds necessary to stop a threat” argument disingenuous and often used by police in the wake of officer involved shootings. I would ask if you felt 16 rounds were necessary to stop 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in Chicago last year? And unfortunately it’s not the only example. Policing is a tough tough job, I get that, but police officers have been given power over the lives of others and far too often IMO they are choosing to exercise that option.

  2. There is no national registry of “bad police” and no national counting of police killings by our government anywhere. No standard for what “bad policing” means. There is way too much secrecy in policing. Too little accountability. Where does the power to prevent that accountability come from?? Find that and start there.

    Our police kill, what, 10 times, 40 times what any other police force in other comparable countries do? Apparently, police benevolent associations don’t what us to know how many killings and other violent interventions there are. Powerful forces are at work. Meaningful, lasting change is unlikely, but I can hope.

  3. “As per firearms, only the number of rounds necessary to stop a threat is taught.”

    Jeff, I am not persuaded that that is what is taught, or that it is taught pervasively because clearly police shootings occur with great frequency nationally where the shooting victim is riddled with bullets from one or more guns.

    We need policing, but the antagonistic, militaristic policing we are reading about in a free press reveals systemic failures: excessive use of force, excessive shootings, and racism with little to no accountability. We need to measure what is happening so that we can understand the extent of it. We can’t even do that at this point. No other comparable police force in the free world does so much killing.

    Take a look at all the people of all stripes protesting in the streets, risking their health, to make the point that change is overdue. Don’t take this personally. Help us make policing work with less violence and fewer bad actors.

  4. “The media is seeking perfection from law enforcement officers when they are in fact human and make mistakes.”

    I don’t think the media is seeking this. In fact I think the media has a pretty clear understanding of the difficulties associated with law enforcment in America today — more than your average citizen. However I do believe the comment illustrates the level of distrust and paranoia exhibited by law enforcement today, and it is one echoed by several police representatives in recent weeks. Those likely to be caught and called out by the media would most likely take steps to make sure they are not around in future. Far as I know the media hasn’t killed anyone and is often the target of both police and perpetrators — also as we have seen in recent weeks.

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