Police Diversity Re-training.
(ThyBlackMan.com) “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s a bible-based piece of wisdom which is also applicable in our homes, our finances, our workplaces, our places of worship, and our relationships/friendships. That phrase isn’t political – it’s theoretical, actual, tactical, and practical. Christian common sense is the foundation. In light of recent events – as well as the culmination of tragic events over months and years and decades – something groundbreaking is needed in community policing techniques. It’s time to reinvent the wheel. We need comprehensive diversity re-training for all of America’s law enforcement personnel. Pronto.
Here’s my proposal. It’s time for every single police officer in the United States of America to know what it feels like to be black or brown or female. They need to feel what it’s like to be young and scared – even when no laws have been broken. Regardless of their educational background. Regardless of their socioeconomic status. Regardless of how compliance they are to the police officer’s commands. Even though they’re around the corner from their own home. Even though they haven’t had a drop of alcohol to drink. Even when there’s no marijuana present. Even when they don’t have any unpaid tickets on their motor vehicle record. Even when there is no arrest warrant for them. Even there is no weapon of any kind on their person or in their vehicle.
Perhaps if every American officer was taught a little bit about the history of black people, red people, and brown people, non-white citizens here might not be history during routine traffic stops and arrests.
Members of law enforcement need to be re-trained in all of those aforementioned scenarios in the presence of their colleagues, partners, supervisors, and top police brass. That would include every Police Chief, district attorney, prosecutor, Sheriff, deputy, trooper, and judge in every American town, city, and state. Include the staff members of every Coroner’s office for good measure.
Here’s the part of the movie where you ask me who’s going to pay for all of this specialized diversity re-training. Behold my reply: I don’t care. Find the money! All lives matter. We are all precious beyond measure. There is no dollar amount that can be assigned to a single human life. Whatever it costs to implement a new, national standard of community policing fully intended to eliminate even the loss of one life because of a questionable traffic stop or bad procedure during an arrest is whatever it costs. Your life is worth it. My life is worth it. Everybody’s life is.
Two weeks ago, Sandra Bland – an unarmed black woman – was arrested in Houston, Texas by a white policeman for changing lanes without signaling. You’ve done that countless times. So have I. The difference is nothing happened to us for doing so. Bland was not as fortunate. She was found dead in her cell shortly thereafter. To say that the circumstances of her death are suspect would be a vast understatement. Would it even matter to you that the police department where Bland was detained has a history of racially insensitive incidents? It would if she were your friend, your sister, your cousin, your college roommate, your girlfriend, your wife, or a member of your church. It would surely matter if you were in her shoes under the exact same circumstances encountering a hostile police officer.
Two weeks ago, Sam DuBose – an unarmed young black man – was pulled over by a white University of Cincinnati police officer – not an officer with the Cincinnati Police Department. Between those two departments, there’s a big difference in training, in resources, and in oversight. This UC officer repeatedly jumped in conclusions while questioning DuBose. He assumed DuBose had been drinking. He assumed DuBose had a suspended license. DuBose was polite and followed the officer’s instructions – right up until that officer pulled out his sidearm and shot DuBose in the head inside of his car, killing him instantly.
That officer later lied in his report – insisting that he shot DuBose because he thought DuBose was trying to run him over. Does it matter if the entire incident was recorded on the officer’s body camera? Would you care if that video directly contradicts the officer’s incident report? Would you be alarmed to know that two other University of Cincinnati police officers backed up a report we now know to be false? It would definitely matter if you had been stopped by that officer under those same circumstances. If that were so, you probably wouldn’t be here now.
Let me understand. Bully cops lie… and unarmed citizens die? That’s not justice at all. That’s unacceptable.
Look at the past 12 months. Tamar Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Walter L. Scott in Charleston, South Carolina. Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland. All of these of men were black. All were unarmed. All encountered white police officers. And tragically, all of these black men ended up dead. Something’s very wrong here.
Everything needs to change – now, not later. Here, there, and everywhere. This is America. We’re better than this. We’re bigger than this. We just are.
Driving while black – and driving while female – must be rendered obsolete as policing stereotypes. I love our men and women in blue. I only ask that they see me, listen to me, and treat me fairly. That’s reasonable. Comprehensive diversity re-training for police throughout America is how to make this happen. It’s the only way. Start over. Beginning today.
Staff Writer; Arthur L. Jones, III
This talented brother is a local Minister, weekly featured Democratic Op-Ed columnist, non-profit advisor, and sees the Braves winning it all this fall. Rev. Jones welcomes your comments! Please email him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.