Thursday, July 7, 2016

Police and Their Guns

Oh, yes, clearly a visible threat to two officers

Watching the video of two Baton Rouge policemen shooting Alton Sterling to death, while he was pinned helplessly on his back I had to think of the professor of criminology they had on The News Hour tonight, who warned us that the investigation of this act is still on going, that we still do not know what preceded the actions shown on this video and I could only think: Like that could even matter. 

FBI investigators should, no doubt, approach their investigation to the event with an open mind, whatever that is, given the video footage, but you don't need 4 years of college, or a law degree or a degree in criminology to know what you see before your eyes. I don't care if the man had shouted "I've got a bomb!" or "I'm going to kill you!" There is enough on the video to show he was tackled to his back and laid out on the ground and with two sizable (white) cops in total control of him and one reaches for his own gun, draws it from the holster and shoots Sterling in cold blood. 
Thugs with a Badge?

There are two videos of this event easily viewable on the internet and in one you can hear a woman sobbing, "They shot him!"  The astonishment in her voice crosses all racial and class barriers. It speaks volumes. She had seen enough to know this was an unexpected outcome.

One would think this video would be the only piece of evidence you'd need to present to a jury of peers. Just play it two or three times and say, "I rest my case."

We are witnessing cold blooded murder by at least one policeman, who should be in jail.

But this is not an isolated event. We have been told for years, at least since the O.J. Simpson trial white police commit wanton acts in Black communities but now we are in the video age and we can see what our fellow Black citizens have seen, and it simply cannot be denied. For Mr. Sterling, justice can be served if his murderer is quickly brought to trial, convicted and sent to prison for life.

But when we think of Mr. Sterling as one example of a larger problem, then we are talking about formulating rules for a larger problem. I would think we now have enough evidence of a pervasive enough problem we should think anew about how to respond to the problem of armed police who behave badly often enough to consider police a threat to public safety. 
Dead for selling CD's 

The problem is clearly not police training, or not enough sensitivity training. The problem, I would hazard a guess is in the nature of the sort of person who wants to be a policeman, to carry a gun and shoot it. 

We do we arm police?  Presumably, there are two reasons: 1/ So they can protect themselves against murderous thugs they are trying to arrest 2/ So they can protect others.  
Unarmed and Usually Unharmed

In England Bobbies are not armed and somehow very few are ever killed. Of course, this may have changed as England has become more diverse.  But, if the internet is correct, English police, when they need armed assistance call in their equivalent of the SWAT team. America is not England, but  as I understand it what the Bobbies do is  surround the miscreant  and overwhelm with numbers or box him in.  England also invested in lots of public cameras so felons could be identified and tracked down later.  

I'd like to see the statistics--and police departments are all about statistics now--which demonstrate that policemen fired their weapons and saved their own lives or the lives of innocent citizens more often than they fired their weapons and killed the innocent.

When statistics regarding ambulances were analyzed, decades ago, it turned out more people were killed by speeding ambulances than were saved by those ambulances and after that ambulances were forbidden to speed through crowded streets, and death rates for both innocent bystanders and passengers declined.

Of course, if we disarmed American policemen, likely a lot of men who would want to be police would no longer want that line of work. I would have to say: Good riddance.

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