How American Police Have Become Lethal Killing Machines…


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.

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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.
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