Are Police Really Racist? Final Act

Finally, we’ve gotten to the end of all these findings.  You have a list, what do you do with it?

Well, you have a list.  Fatal encounters like the ones we used in this study didn’t always happen (sometimes they did, but not all of them).  According to Fatal Encounters 28 states are believed to be complete from 2000 until 2015, of those 28 California, DC, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina are on our remaining list.  An example of how there is such a wide difference, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office had only 3 fatal encounters listed by a specific race from 2000 until 2012, 2 Asians and 1 White.  Here are a few other examples

Long Beach:

00-03 3B/2W/2H/3U

04-06 2H

07-09 3B/1PI/1W/1H/2U

10-12 1B/3W/3H

Forsyth County, Missouri (where Winston-Salem PD is):

There wasn’t a single fatal encounter in the whole county until 2008, from then until 2012 2U/2B/1W

Stonewall PD is the only one in all of Clarke County to engage in any fatal encounters since 2000, and they were both listed in the 2013-2015 study we did this week.

Then you have some that look pretty consistent, like Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (Florida):

00-03 7U

04-06 5B/ 3W/1H

07-09 9B/4W/1H/19U

10-12 9B/1W/5U

A list tells us where problem areas are, right now.  Not where they will be in the future, and with enough information we can tell where the problems were in the past- learning from those which changed- why it happened for the better why it happened for the worse.  But lists and numbers do not tell you the story.  The lists and numbers of incidents that occur could tell you that crime has increased or decreased, or it could simply tell you that crime was more reported during a particular period of time than it was at another.  Videos that depict something may be accurate, or it could be very skewed.  Just today I watched a video about two women (one black and one white) that makes it appear as though all cops treat white women better than black.  But the stories can’t be compared, they were in separate regions of the country (one in Randallstown, Maryland and the other in Greenwood, Arkansas).  Hopefully, if you took anything away from the study this week, you know not to look at the two as being examples of all police, but rather examples of how that particular police department handles things.  It’s of note that after watching the video, I went to look at the Greenwood Police Department, they as of 2013, Greenwood has never had a fatal encounter (since Arkansas isn’t one of the 28 considered complete, I can’t speak to anything prior to 2013, but for now nothing is listed in Fatal Encounters for Greenwood PD).  Not only can you not compare the two because they aren’t in the same state, the stories are leaps and bounds different.  One pointing a weapon at the officers, the other struggling in an overturned vehicle bounded by handcuffs and trying to get to a known locked assault rifle.  They aren’t even close to one another in scope.

Well, I’ve told you what the list means.  But what about what you can do about it?  First, recognize that crime is a thing.  That if your friends are engaged in activities that are obviously dangerous, and you’re not encouraging them to a life outside of that (or even if you’re the one engaged in it), you’re enabling the police’s tactics against you and everyone around you.  Some things you’re not going to know, a lot of family members talk about how the police must be wrong about their child or their friend.  You’re not at fault for what you don’t realize is going on, but you are if you do.  We are all each other’s keeper.

Next, work on creating healthy environments in your community.  If you’re truly worried about the people around you being targeted by the police, you have to change the mind of the police- and you do that by building community (not gangs).  Get your community to invest in programs that help a demographic (poor, those with low-self esteem, etc) which are “likely” to become criminals if they don’t have the support of those around them to raise them up in the world.  Give them a reason to value a lifestyle that doesn’t include crime.  It will take time, don’t get discouraged.

Finally, your police department should be engaging in healthy relationships with the community too.  It doesn’t all fall on to you as a member of the community to resolve the issues.  Bring up problems you have with the police department leaders (not the laymembers, you don’t really accomplish much there) and ask “how can you help us help you?”.  Research programs that work in areas across the country (community policing, worked wonders in the Military Police world, but I’m not so sure it’s as promising in certain areas of the country as it is others).  Just like a physical fight, things start out as two parties arguing over things until it escalates and becomes a full on physical altercation.  That’s what is happening in the US right now.  The more Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter activists scream, the worse it’s going to get all around, and the victims won’t be All Lives Matter advocates, it’ll the those in the Blue and those hollering Black Lives Matter. You know, the two sides that are hyping things up so much, that innocent lives are being taken because of perceptions that keep getting tossed around.  We don’t have to be “Blue v. Black v. All Lives”, we can simply become “Us”, but it will take time.

There’s one more thing I wanted to point out.  The narrative that more blacks get killed than whites (per capita) does not support the Black Lives Matter narrative.  The real question isn’t who gets killed more, but what demographic is patrolled more by individual police departments.  But before you judge the police department for tackling different areas that are considered “crime central” in their neighborhoods, I recommend you read Dr. Alice Goffman’s work.  It’s a good read.

http://users.soc.umn.edu/~uggen/Goffman_ASR_09.pdf

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