IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR, WHAT IS RIGHT, WHAT IS WRONG, IT IS EASY FOR OTHERS TO SHAPE YOUR THINKING.
Having spent ten years of my early life as a law enforcement officer, and after leaving law enforcement in 1991, I spent my entire life true to the virtues of the rule of law.
I did not need to be told that a life of crime was not a good idea, that understanding has been a part of my DNA.
In the years since I left the Jamaica Constabulary Force, I have seen up close just how much of a lie we were told as cops serving in Jamaica, that cops in America were paragons of virtue, who treated people with respect, “yes sir no sir.”
It is remarkable that having seen up close how police routinely frame people for offenses they never committed, without batting an eye, as to the consequences those false arrests will have on that person’s life, I am forever changed about how I view American police.
As bad as my initial perceptions were during the ’90s, what obtains today in American policing has changed by leaps and bounds and not for the better.
Many years ago a former colleague and I were having a conversation in the Bronx, he asked me“how could you be so critical of police when we were ourselves, police officers”?
Without thinking about it I asked him, ” Is this the way we did policing?
Dillo, as we affectionally called him looked me in the eye and then dropped his gaze.….…“Nah”, he said and turned away.
My idealism around law enforcement is the anthesis of what we are witnessing in American policing.
We entered law enforcement with the desire to help people, to be there for those who could not defend themselves.
Those are the principles on which I entered law enforcement, but the guiding principle that has guided my career has been the principle that I learned on entering detective training.
“There is no greater honor than to be tasked with bringing to justice the murderer/s of the innocent”.
There were no pulling motorists over and fishing to find something for which to ticket them or worse.
There was no racial animus that could cause us to abuse our fellow citizens, or worse cause us to take their freedom or their life away.
There were no planting drugs in my world, no falsifying reports, no telling lies while under oath. In fact, our training was centered on the premise that when an offender commits an offense he does so against the state and not against us. Those principles were geared at stopping us from taking things personally. That concept is self-evident in the way police all across America carry out their duties.
When an officer personalizes an offender’s crime or offense, he is liable to abuse that offender’s rights. He is liable to get himself in trouble in circumstances where police officers are held accountable for their actions.
The difference in America, is that hardly are police officers held accountable regardless of the blatancy of their illegal actions.
No one expects that we simply throw our officers to the wolves when they make honest mistakes in the heat of the moment in which they have to make snap decisions.
However, it cannot be that [qualified immunity] be used to protect police officers from the consequences of their actions when they violate their oath.
According to one definition; Qualified immunity is designed to protect all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law. Law enforcement officers are entitled to qualified immunity when their actions do not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right.
Unfortunately for Black and Brown Americans, it has become clearer by the day that police are incapable of violating clearly established statutory or constitutional rights.
It is an ever-changing landscape in which the aforementioned blatancy of police actions is excused, tolerated, and explained away, rather than investigated, flushed out, and exposed in the public’s interest.
The general idea in a democracy is that the government is answerable to the people, not the other way around.
The American policing landscape is telling a different story. It gives police abnormal powers to suppress and abuse citizens, essentially making police overlords rather than servants of the people.
Through a massive militarization and protections from accountability, police have become more abrasive, abusive, and much more lethal.
It is a tragic state of affairs that many citizens are more terrified of the police than they are of ordinary criminals.
Police fire a barrage of bullets into the bodies of people in their beds, people who are in distress, unarmed people on their knees, people strapped in their cars, people sitting in their own homes eating icecream and watching Television. They murder old and young and every age in between.
Police have become so lethal that even children are terrified of them.
There are some tell-tale practices that American cops engage in, that are evident in their engagements, particularly with black citizens. They are either taught to use them, or have seen them used without consequence, & have co-opted them across the board.
(1) A bunch of cops, all yelling different commands at a subject. This tactic confuses the subject and makes it impossible for the subject to be compliant.
It is used as a justification for assaulting the subject & even to justify killing the subject if they deem it expedient to do so.
For example in Houston Texas, police Chief Art Acevedo has used non-compliance with police commands as a reason police use lethal force killing a suspect, this is common-place in Houston and other police departments.
(2)Even after firing several bullets into a suspect’s body and he is on the ground, police continue to shout at the mortally wounded subject to get on the ground as a means to justify the level of force they used.
In most instances, the situation could have been resolved simply by de-escalating and being more respectful of the individual.
(3)Piling on a suspect’s body and continually yelling “stop resisting”, even as the suspect has absolutely no means of obeying any commands.
This tactic is used to justify beating the suspect and demonstrating who is boss. It also allows them to pile on charges of resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. In many cases, they beat on an innocent suspect and sustain injuries that are then blamed on the already abused suspect.
The courts have become complicit in these atrocities, in which police arrest people for resisting arrest when there are no base charges.
How can the resisting arrest be validated by a court when the police had no lawful reason to arrest in the first place.
(4) Firing a barrage of bullets into a person’s body when the use of a taser could have sufficed or no force at all.
They then sometimes pull out gloves and pretend to give first aid after literally having just killed another human being.
The system allows for this kind of killing-field where police are allowed to fire multiple bullets into a person, literally ensuring they are dead when a single shot would have incapacitated the person.
There are [cop-oligists] who have argued that a person shot can still be dangerous. To them I ask, have you ever been shot?
(5) The practice of multiple cops firing their weapons into the body of another human being really became a thing.…. after NYPD killer cops brutally murdered an unarmed Amadou Diallo. They fired a total of forty-one (41) bullets at the unarmed man, then falsely claimed that they thought his wallet was a gun.
To justify that egregious slaughter, the New York Police Department and its enablers coined a new term to justify the wanton, reckless, and depraved indifferent use of lethal force. That term was (“contagious firing”). That term not only worked in getting the murderers acquitted, but it also became a new normal, a gigantic shift in the goalpost as to what is acceptable in police use of force on black people.
The four depraved murderers — Sean Carroll, 37, Edward McMellon, 27, Kenneth Boss, 28, and Richard Murphy, 27 –never faced justice for what was the unmitigated slaughter of an innocent man.
(6) Police no longer use real de-escalation tactics to deal with people with mental issues or others who may be in mental distress. They do the bare minimum to try to create an illusory effect that they tried to deescalate, but their actions generally further agitate the distressed person. Again, a bunch of cops pointing guns at the subject and yelling at the top of the lungs, all barking different commands.
These tactics end up with the death of people going through real emotional trauma at the hands of police.
This makes it a life and death decision when a family member decides to call the police for help dealing with a distraught loved one.
Making that call oftentimes becomes a bad decision for the family.
Citizens and in particular black people, are far better off, not calling the police to their homes at all.
(7) Observance of a multiplicity of these police shootings paints a rather stark picture that police are not particularly in the business of saving lives.
Shockingly, it appears that they are itching to see how they can create a justification for shooting at a suspect, even when they are on calls that included no allegations of criminal wrongdoing.
This is sometimes true across the racial spectrum but particularly so in communities of color.
Black & Brown people are generally either badly battered and bruised seconds after police arrive, or worse, are left bleeding out, mere seconds after being alive.
Unless there is glaring irrefutable evidence of police wrongdoing, followed up by mass social action in the streets, courts are willing partners in these miscarriages of justice, so much so that the police do not see a reason to care about committing them, even when they are being photographed or videotaped.
PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, businessman, researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
You may subscribe to his blogs free of charge, or subscribe to his Youtube channel @chatt-a-box, for the latest podcast all free to you of course.