Saturday, November 29, 2014

Don't Give the Police an Excuse

Here I was – sounding off about how Michael Brown was unarmed and the only crime the police officer knew about was jaywalking – and then he shot him dead – emptied his gun into him.

A police officer explained to me that I was couch quarterbacking something I knew nothing about.

When a police officer, or anybody else is trained to use a gun for self-defense, the training includes -- don’t start shooting unless you feel threatened, but if you do feel threatened, – if you start shooting -- you keep shooting until the gun is empty. 

This makes sense. In a stressful situation, simple instructions are the easiest to follow.  

I get it.  Almost every day, a white police officer kills an African-American male. I get it. About 30% of African-American males are convicted felons.  I get it – drugs should be legal. I get it, prisons should not be run for profit.  I get it – there is tons wrong with our legal system.

But, being a police officer in a country where guns are easy to get is a dangerous job.  The purpose of guns is to kill.  Mistakes in judgement happen.

I’m a white female.   I was trained as a child – if the police ask you to do something – even something unreasonable – you do it – unless it is something illegal or something that could get you in more trouble later – for example, if a police officer asks you to pick up something that isn’t yours – don’t do it – don’t get your fingerprints on possible evidence.  Expect that the officer may hit you, but that’s better than doing jail time.

Apparently Michael Brown was not trained this way.   Jaywalking is not a lethal offense. Disobeying a legal request of a police officer is a lethal offense, especially if you are an African American male.

I’d like to start by making guns harder to get.  I’d like to start by making sure that everybody gets trained the way I was trained – do what the police say, unless it is illegal.

Vote.  Make sure that the police force in your city or town has representatives from all the races, ethnic groups, and economic groups.  Ferguson has an all white police force, and an all white government.  But the city is 64% African-American. 

And make sure that everybody knows – police are trained to empty their guns if they start shooting. Don’t give them an excuse to start.

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