On October 2019, an African American was shot at his own apartment by a police officer because she thought that he was an intruder. She was charged with murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. For the past century, there has been a lot of cases in which police officers have acted out of instinct rather than analyzing the situation. Nowadays, we are experiencing a higher level of violent action by police officers that are seemingly not trained. I believe that police officers should have more well-prepared training physically and mentally and to prevent innocent fatalities and family mourning and have accountability.
Police officers should be well trained physically and mentally because of how they react toward a situation. Of course, police officers are going to be ready for anything and need to be alert and aware that they are in a dangerous situation when they are called in or need back-up. But, if they are in a place where they feel threatened, that doesn’t justify for them to shoot automatically. They should first identify themselves and do a “warning shoot” to warn them. For instance, on October of 2019, a woman was shot in her own house because she was mistaken by a robber or intruder. The police officer came in because of a call they received from a concerned neighbor. When he arrived at the house, he noticed that the doors were open and noticed a shadow with a gun by her window and shot the victim without identifying himself. ““I get it,” Chief Kraus said of the widespread public anger that followed the release of body camera video in the case. It showed that Ms. Jefferson had been given no warning that it was a police officer who had crept into her backyard, shined a light into her bedroom window and shouted, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” immediately before firing a single fatal shot.” (The New York Times). This case is also related to one that happened a year ago where a man was shot in his own apartment by a police officer because she mistakenly thought it was her apartment and thought that the man was an intruder. The woman was recently convicted this year for murder and was given 10 years of prison (Fox News). It’s understandable how police officers come from a long day and they’re tired. But they still have the responsibility to perform to their best ability at any time and to protect their community. “Criminal justice professor Maria Haberfeld argues that police officers in America are simply not getting enough training.” (Maria Haberfeld, Dudley William 64)
Over the years, there has been some complaints about how police officers abuse their use of weapons. They are believed to use forces without justification or for no reason. Of course, they have the authority to use weapons when needed. Although, if they use a weapon such as taser, CED, pepper spray, baton sticks, or just simply must take them down, they need to know how not to take things too excessively. For example, there was a time where a police officer was being investigated for excessively abusing his use of force by tackling and throwing down and African American (Dudley, William) “But in October 2015 the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent New York City agency that handles complaints against police, concluded that while Frascatore may have had legal authority to temporarily detain and interrogate Blake, his use of force was excessive and constituted an abuse of that authority.” (Dudley, William) (Civilian Complaint Review Board). This has been one of many cases where police officers were seen as abusing their powers. It wasn’t necessary for the police officer to react in a violent way to tackle and throw the man down. Also, in some cases, there has been a belief that police officers tend to be more abusive and violent towards African Americans and minorities. For instance, there had been three incidents where they were all African Americans and were all shot by white police officers. This raised questions on how police officers mistreat minorities. The National Association for the Advancement of colored people (NAACP) and Black Lives Matter have concerns of the abuse of police officers against them. “According to their analysis, from 2010 to 2012 white males ages 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 1.47 per million individuals. From 2010 to 2012 black males ages 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million–a rate 21 times higher than for whites.” (ProPublica). This proves how African Americans tend to confront police officers and are killed more than white males. ‘African Americans are statistically more likely to be arrested than other groups, are more likely to have force used against them, and are more likely to be killed in confrontations with police.” (Dudley, William) There was a specific case where an eighteen-year-old was killed by a police officer in an unnecessary act of matter. In addition to this there has also been body camera footage and surveillance videos that prove and show us how police officers contradict their stories about how a crime scene happened or try to mix up their stories to what actually happened. For instance, a man was shot by a police officer because of a concern of a license plate (Dudley, William). “University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Samuel DuBose at a traffic stop concerning a missing license plate. Tensing initially claimed DuBose was threatening him with his vehicle; surveillance and body camera footage seemed to contradict his story. Tensing was indicted for murder and voluntary manslaughter and faces a possible prison sentence.” (Dudley, William). This adds up to the fact that police officers need to be more aware of how their actions are impacting the communities concern about their safety.
Another occurrence in which raised questions as to how police officers abuse their power is that they don’t hold accountability towards a crime that has been committed and which can result not having trust towards police officers. There have been many cases where police officers are investigated for a shooting but go unpunished or are on what they call administrative leave until the investigation is closed. On November 2015, Jason Van Dyke, was sentenced for the death of a 17-year-old African American. “Van Dyke, a white officer, had shot the seventeen-year-old African American sixteen times on October 20, 2014, in an incident that was captured by a video camera on another squad car. Many of the shots were fired after McDonald fell to the ground from the initial burst of gunfire.” (Dudley, William). Although he was convicted, many people were protesting and angry not only for the police officers’ actions, but because of how the police department act towards the crime and their actions. It had to come to that incident for the department to accuse him. There had already been many complaints on how the police officer acted inappropriately in other cases. And, the fact that they didn’t fire him in that moment but was assigned to desk duty made people realize how the department didn’t held accountability for the police officer’s actions. 84% of police officer reports that they’ve seen them use excessive force and only 61% admit that they don’t always report even serious crimes because they most likely curb it. (Dudley, William) ““There’s shockingly little accountability for police and other law enforcement…. Indictments for police homicides are rare, and convictions almost nonexistent,”(3) writes journalist Jamelle Bouie. Suggested reforms to increase police accountability include the use of independent investigators to address complaints of police abuse and greater civilian oversight of police departments.” (Dudley, William, Jamelle Bouie). Police officers go to work every day not knowing if they’ll come back. They should think about the victim’s family whenever they’re pointing a gun at somebody. All of these loses and cases where a victim dies out of a fatal shooting, their families are in pain and want justice to be served. That’s something that police officers and the department need to take in consideration.
Police officers must be responsible in what they do. Either it being preventing crimes, helping those who need protection or the community, and other services. We see police officers as our guardians who represent to protect us and make us feel safe. “Critics argue that police need more training on how to communicate and interact with people, how to avoid or de-escalate confrontations, and how police actions (such as use of force) may impact the department’s and officer’s relationship with the community.” (Dudley, William) Police officers should have more time for training, communicate more effectively, and improve in their use of force. Police officers set a role models to kids who look up to them and might want to be them one day. Not only is an innocent life taken but their family members are left behind. Wanting a “love you” from their loved one before their last breath or to at least be able to say goodbye to them.