With the media covering recent story after story about unarmed African
American citizens killed by police officers, followed by an outcry for
justice, it seems like there is still a serious need for a real solution
to be implemented. Many believe that hiring more African Americans to
serve on the police force can help to ease tensions between police officers
and the communities they serve, but is this really the only solution?
CSI Academy of Florida, David J. Thomas, was asked to participate in a discussion with other
experts on The Heat about policing in the United States. David discussed
the difficulties of building up a police force that doesn’t just
control its community, but also supports it.
Will Hiring More African American Officers Help?
Despite what many people might believe, the experts on the Heat feel that
the problem isn’t necessarily the lack of a racially representative
force, but instead the unlawful way in which these police forces are conducting
their affairs and the vicious cycle that these practices create.
Some of these negative principles reviewed on The Heat include:
Racial profiling: Racial profiling of the African American community has become a serious
issue resulting in negative actions and aggressive re-action. Profiled
African Americans are arrested and sent to jail more times than other
citizens of other races, which only perpetuates the idea that they commit
more crimes and need to be profiled more often. Communities begin to feel
targeted and attacked, increasing hostility and tension between groups.
Hiring more African American police officers won’t dilute this issue,
since it is engrained into the very mentatlity and procedures the force
uses to “catch criminals.”
Predatory type of practice: The police’s style of attack-and-destroy doesn’t build trust
between the community and the force. “Warrior policing” is
rewarded by punishing instead of protecting. Removing that predator-aspect
of their motivations can relieve tensions between sides and hopefully
promote more positive relationships. By changing the approach to how they
serve and protect, the police force can redesign the perspective of their
philosophy from “handling and eliminating threats” to “protecting
the people of the community.”
Protection for negligent officers: The police force has been known to protect their fellow officers, even
in the face of being wrong, but this practice extends far beyond simply
protecting officers that may be guilty of a crime. Some unions often protect
officers from being fired by their superiors, even if there is a valid
reason. This mindset of protecting yourself and your peers over the people
you are supposed to serve is imbedded into the system and can be witnessed
through the defense of officers who have shot unarmed civilians. Sadly,
their defense often focuses on the fact that in the moment of shooting
they felt their safety had been threatened and they needed to protect
Changing these aspects of police mentality and procedure is just the first
step to improving corrupt police practice and soothing the hurt relationships
between them and the people they serve.
If you would like to know more, watch the full interview here!