20 July 2020
There has been a great uproar in the Black Lives Matter movement ignited by the killing of George Floyd in late May. People are tired and want to see real change in the police and some have even called for the police to be defunded. In the article “ Where’s Black Lives Matter when you need them”, author Larry Elder talks about police brutality and feels that there’s no epidemic of racist cops killing black suspects. Although all opinions have validity, I think it is naive of him to feel as though police brutality is not an issue. I believe that in order to stop this epidemic we need to undo 400 years of oppression of a people and racism which is not easy. I think we need serious reform and more screenings and tests of those who are considered in place to keep us safe. I also believe we need more unarmed policing to ensure that things do not become out of hand as they have been.
It takes 6 months to become a police officer in which you learn defensive driving, firearm training, state laws, etc. You then have a fitness test and a final test based on everything that was covered in those 26 week period. In those 26 weeks there is no screening of ethics or morals nor screening to combat racism however when in the academy they teach you what demographic, based on their statistics is most likely to commit crimes. That is why we have officers like Lt. Greg Abbott who said, “But you’re not black, Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right?” Cops like Abbott were not screened on their morals or beliefs of other races, all across the media you see cops like Abbott with this point of view. Cops constantly use excessive force on one demographic of people but say stuff like this to a different demographic. It takes seven years or more to become a lawyer. How is it that cops are expected to uphold laws that they studied for 6 months when it takes up to seven years for lawyers to understand and fight for the law.
There are 19 countries around the world that have unarmed cops in which they only are allowed weapons if the situation is merit. In these countries you see a significantly less amount of deaths and use of excessive force than in the United states. Take Norway for example, “While 1090 people were killed by police in the United States in 2019, Norway saw no deaths at the hands of police officers for the same year.” This is also a country that has a different approach to policing which ties back into my first point that reform is necessary. In countries like Norway, “Countries with a philosophy of policing by consent, believe that police should not gain their power by instilling fear in the population but rather, should gain legitimacy and authority by maintaining the respect and approval of the public. This model of policing maintains that uses of force should be restrained and success is measured not in how many arrests officers have made but rather, by the absence of crime itself.”(By Mellisa Godin June 19, 2020) Unlike the US where you are rewarded for the surplus in arrest other countries do not reward it but often look down on it. I think cops shouldn’t carry guns because you have situations where people like Elijiah MCclain with a disability tranqed and killed when he committed no crimes whatsoever.
Some may say, Like Larry Elder, that race based police brutality is not real and there is no need for reform. The President is one of those people, who believe that black people do not suffer police brutality at a disproportionate rate. When asked on the topic of the disproportionate rate of police brutality in the Black community his response was “So are white people. More white people, by the way.” Trying to dismantle the idea of race based brutality by saying white people face brutality too is not a solid stance. This only proves my stance of brutality and why actions need to be taken, if you have an officer using an excessive amount of force on any demographic of people and not see a problem with it then your moral viewpoint is jaded.
With more screenings, tests and time in the police academy I believe that we will see a decline in race based brutality. I believe that when we begin to have officers unarmed and not treat the badge as a show of force and power but as a respectful show of honor we will then begin to have and see change. Race based Police brutality in the United States is an epidemic that needs to be put to an end and while I do not fully agree with defunding the police in its entirety I do believe that there is a lot that needs to be fixed and changed.