Cade B. Louisiana

Racist Police?

Is the US law enforcement racist?

Lately law enforcement officers have become the headlines of newspapers due to several shooting incidents of African Americans. With these shootings either being highly publicized or filmed, much talk is being made about the motives of our law enforcement officers. Some people may even call our officers racist, which is defined as prejudice towards one person due to race. Do our law enforcement officers deserve a title such as this? The real question is "Are African Americans targeted more by the police because of racism?"

Terence Crutcher of Tulsa and Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge are two examples, from the past months, of incidents that have enraged the public. President Barack Obama and his administration even spoke out to the public on this issue after the death of Michael Brown. Michael Brown was an African American who supposedly had his hands up when policeman, Darren Wilson, shot him dead but there is a different recount of the story according to Wilson. President Obama said about this, "the big concern is the fact that the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents." If that is the case then I guess it would be sensible to call someone racist. Another incident receiving attention is the shooting of African American Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge while he was pinned on the floor. Police had gotten a call earlier which said this man was selling CDs and had a firearm. Moments before he was shot, bystanders were recording what was happening. It is hard to tell if Sterling was struggling to get a weapon from the video, but local detective R. Cook's conclusion after looking into the case was, "When the subject attempted to reach for the gun from his pockets the officers fired their police issued duty weapon at the subject to stop the threat. The subject was shot multiple times and did not survive his injuries." The jury ruled it a homicide and no officers were convicted with murder.

Another recent example was Terence Crutcher who is also African American. CNN reported that he was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by a policewoman while he was next to his car. He was unarmed and officer Betty Shelby was charged with first degree manslaughter. She pleaded guilty and the case was changed to a homicide. Her attorney, Scott Wood, did bring up the fact that he was not obeying her orders; "She was yelling at him to stop, for probably at least 10 to 15 seconds" (Wood). If every order was followed then would Terence Crutcher still be alive today?

One word that gets people's attention is "unarmed." It is wrong for law enforcement to kill a man or woman who has no weapon, but it is difficult in many situations to tell whether a suspect is armed or not. Firearms should only be used when a person is a threat to a policeman or another person's life. Everyone should have the right to live a full life, and that includes both citizens and police officers. Pulling the trigger is a big gamble for a police officer, risking the victim's life, their life, and fellow officers' lives. Decisions need to be made quickly and that is why some people are not fit to do it. Better training methods could be implemented in law enforcement to help with this issue. Another argument that people try to make is why there are more law enforcement officers in black communities than others. Journalist German Lopez explains this as "This is one of the key reasons there are such huge racial disparities in law enforcement. It’s not just that individual officers hold subconscious racial biases — although they do. It’s also that the criminal justice system deploys officers in a way that’s racially biased." I disagree with Lopez on this being a "huge" racial disparity because of the disproportional amount of crime being committed within different communities. The Department of Justice released national crime data and journalist Paul Watson brought up the fact that, "In 2013, black criminals carried out 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, again despite the fact that there are five times more white people in the U.S." More crime means you have a greater need for enforcement. How is taking police officers out of a certain area supposed to lower the crime rate? So the color of skin is not always a factor for someone being stopped by a police officer. Journalist Larry Elder looked into the national statistics from the Department of Justice in order to find a reason for the recent shootings. According to former policeman Peter Moskos' research, "Criminology professor Peter Moskos looked at the numbers of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 and found that 49 percent were white, while 30 percent were black. Adjusted for the homicide rate," says Moskos, "whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police" (quoted by Elder). However, some people who are protesting may not know that this is the fact.

Dear Mr. or Madam President, I hope that you are able to help solve the issue of so many in disapproval of our law enforcement. Even though some tragic cases have happened, and some officers have made mistakes, people need to obey the orders of law enforcement. It is important that everyone cooperate because it makes police officers' job easier, and could prevent tension that leads to someone being killed. When an incident like this may happen we should look deeper into it and the known facts before rioting and accusations of racism. Better relationships with the police and the community can be made. We must still respect the police that give their lives to protect us, but justice must be made for every unlawful killing. Who else would you call for in a time of danger?

Cedar Creek School

Cedar Creek School

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