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Something to Think About: The Proper Response to Incidents of Police Brutality

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Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn

 

new michael vaughnIn the past few years, beginning with Trevon Martin, black people have been getting killed for what seems to have been no reason at all.

In one of the most recent incidents, in Tulsa, Oklahoma,  an officer, from what I understand, has stated the reason she killed an unarmed man was because she feared for her life.

However, the issue with that statement was that the man was walking away from her!

And, as these incidents have continued to grow, or to at least become uncovered, the question has arisen, as to what the proper response should be, if one should find themselves in that situation.

I have some thoughts to throw out there for consideration.

First of all, we must be very careful not to throw all police officers into one pile, and to allow the mistrust between the African-American community and the police department to grow.

I realize that is a tall order, however, in order to move forward in our society, we must realize that law enforcement officers will always be a part of it, with the express mandate to enforce the law.

Without police officers executing their roles, our society would likely sink into fear, and lawlessness.

As a result, we need to reject any individual or group that would try to label all police officers as bad, or racist, or criminals.

That is just not true!

We have to support what our law enforcement folks do, and not allow every officer to be degraded just because of the horrible choices of a few.

In 2008, there were 765,000 sworn personnel (personnel with arrest powers) in the United States, according to Wikipedia.

And, while I do not have the exact numbers, less than 0.1 percent of police officers, or 765, have made the nightly news.

That means that 99.9 percent, or 764,235 officers, have not been involved in those scenarios.

That is the main reason we cannot, and should not, put every officer into the same bucket, and allow the media, or others, to denigrate them.

Please do not misunderstand me; one officer involved in the murder of an innocent man or woman is too much.

Also, the individuals and families this 0.1 percent of officers has impacted will be forever affected!

That is something that cannot, and should not, be overlooked!

In addition, I also believe that, while the African-American community should not respond to these killings by throwing all police officers in one bucket, police officers should also be obligated to respond in the appropriate way.

They should not tolerate any “bad apples” in their departments.

When an officer is suspected of racism, or of fearing a black person, that officer should be reported.

I realize police have a certain brotherhood, or bond; however, their commitment to their profession, and their duty to protect the public must transcend any code of brotherhood.

It’s just like the way police officers realize the major way to stop crime is to have the people in a neighborhood report who and where the criminals are.

Police officers also need to realize the best way to restore trust between African-Americans and police is to ensure that when one of their own is wrong, they do not support them.

There can be NO tolerance for a “bad,” or “corrupt,” or “racist” police officer…period!

The proper response to what we’ve seen happening lately is to demand we stand by the police departments, and that the police stand by the community.

We should also realize that not all police officers are bad, and, police officers also need to be willing to realize that covering for “bad apples” is not adherence to a code, but a dismissal of their duty to serve and protect.

We all have to choose our response to these occurrences when they happen carefully, and we have to be willing to ensure that we respond properly!

If you would like to contact me, please email me at mvaughn.seniorpastor@newwineskin.org.

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