You can’t justify the unjustifiable.
My heart hurts today. The horrible shooting death of Alton Sterling by the Baton Rouge police officers on Tuesday and now the death of Philando Castile due to a St. Anthony police officer in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota.
I have been outspoken in defense of the majority of law enforcement, but something is broken. These are unjustifiable deaths of non-violent citizens at the hands of men who are supposed to “Protect and Serve.”
We need good, stable, men and women wearing blue to protect us from criminals and keep order in our society. But, clearly our system of recruiting and training is failing us all. I can’t be sure if it is psychological testing that is not catching the officers who kill, or the training that isn’t helping to tamp down an overwhelming fear response, or the recruiting isn’t weeding out those who invite violence. Whatever the cause, all three need a top to bottom review across law enforcement agencies in the United States. Today.
Further, we need better non-lethal tools in the hands of our officers. Clearly the Taser is not the answer as there are cases where the officer mistakenly grabbed a firearm instead as the grip is too similar (Oscar Grant) or the Taser doesn’t stop the suspect. I’ve suggested many times that we need a simple device near the wrist that rapidly deploys an immobilizing foam or sticky spider web material, already existing technology. That way the officer is safe from harm and there is no need for lethal force to be used.
Today I mourn the deaths of these two men and pray for their families to find some solace. Today we must visit the root causes of these killings and make changes to stop these senseless deaths. Today we must close the chasm of mistrust and fear between community and police.
Tomorrow we must have a more peaceful place for our children.