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Letters: Re-thinking American Policing

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I am not a police officer. I have never wanted to be one. I recognize the job as unforgiving and tough and taxing on the human psyche. I can see why officers and ex officers are subject to higher than normal rates of divorce, suicide, and substance abuse. I can see how an “us vs. them” mentality might develop, and how that might end badly – and has – time and time again.

It is plain that there are systemic problems within a system where employees are asked to be so many things – counselor, litigator, babysitter, enforcer – and that things need to change in order to get better. Right now, we seem committed to repeating Einstein’s description of insanity. And people are dying.

I am reminded of the old saying that starts “Heaven Is Where The Police Are British…” and am left to wonder if we could launch a police recruitment effort in the UK, agreeing that their officers are well mannered, well spoken, and for the most part unarmed. Understanding that we’re quite a bit bigger and more populous than our English cousins our police still dispatch our citizens by the hundreds each year while British bobbies can count the number of times they’ve had to resort to lethal force on one hand.

I have come to believe this is the result of training and practices and that adjustments need to be made if our law enforcement departments are to curtail the number of fatal shootings and other excesses we have seen develop over time. Let me be clear: I am not for defunding the police, but I am for better training and oversight, for their sake as well as for ours.

Respectfully,

James T. Gibbons/Concord

21 COMMENTS

  1. Train the police. Fund the police. Support the police. But take away qualified immunity. Give them better tools to do the many jobs we’re asking them to do. Otherwise this is going to happen again and again.

    • Agreed. We’re about to see a benchmark moment in history. I will continue to support the people who put on a uniform and take to the street every day but they need to know they can be held accountable. They are not gods. For that critical 3 minutes, Chauvin was playing god.

  2. You don’t see a murder executed so callously like that every day except maybe a gang or mob execution, and those aren’t usually recorded for everyone to see.

    • Police are killing on average 3 a day in this country, and that ain’t new or news. Past time for meaningful reform.

      • Over 95% of killings by police are justified because the suspect was engaged in an assault on the police and/or others. But yeah, it’s ALL on the cops, no culpability/personal responsibility lies with the endless stream of idiots who make the decision to resist/attack police.

        Go ahead and look up the recent video of New Mexico State Trooper Darrian Jarrott being literally executed on the side of the highway during one of those “routine” traffic stops, the kind certain “reform/reimagine” types would prefer be made by “traffic safety experts” or perhaps a psychologist.

  3. The end result of not getting in the police car. You don’t cooperate with the police, there are consequences. Lives lost, huge settlements ticking off the taxpayers and families getting rich. Oh, happy day.

  4. As of this date, 275 people have been killed in contacts with Police. Not exactly an epidemic. Society needs reform, not Police.

    • There are 3 killings per day by law enforcement, disproportionately affecting people of color, per the Times. If 2 of those daily deaths are preventable with better hiring, firing, and training practices, isn’t that worth something? Isn’t professional, accountable policing worth pursuing?

    • Derek Chauvin, convicted murderer, was a trained veteran police officer. He abused others before murdering George Floyd. No need for reform? Officer Hall has now killed 2 persons in Danville in 2 1/2 years. He’s still on the police force while under indictment. Just bad luck?

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