Voice of lawman important in discussion on police shootings

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2018

He is the chief lawman in LaGrange, Georgia but his influence as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) may allow him to become a calming voice pertaining to the growing national outrage concerning police shootings in America. The Washington Post, which has been maintaining a data base on shootings by police since 2015, reports that police fatally shot nearly 1,000 people, and that 46 officers were killed nationwide in 2017.

In fact, for the third year in a row, police nationwide shot and killed nearly 1,000 people. To be precise, police shot 987 people last year, two dozen more than were killed in 2016. The Washington Post, which has been criticized by those who believe that their reporting encourage animosity toward law enforcement, has logged the details of nearly 3,000 shooting deaths since 2015.

It is surprising, however, to note that although there is a belief that there is an increase in the shootings of unarmed African Americans by police, the reality is that the number of unarmed black males killed in 2017 declined from two years ago. Last year, police killed 19 black males, compared to 17 killed in 2016.

In 2015, police shot and killed 36 unarmed black males.

Because the shootings by police are high profile cases, the impression is spreading across racial, ethnic, and economic stratum, that our country is rapidly moving towards a police state where shootings of citizens by law enforcement will be done with impunity. This is, of course untrue, but too many in America do not perceive the police as officer friendly, but as criminals in uniform.

This attitude must change. The majority of officers in the United States would never violate their uniform and engage in criminal activities. They are governed by the principles in a statement released by the International Association of Chiefs of Police several months ago which states that “law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are complainants, suspects or defendants with dignity, and respect.”

Our great country must never digress to where some in our society believe that law enforcement is the enemy.

This is why Lou Dekmar, the new President of the IACP, must use his powerful position to assuage the public trust that there is truth in the law enforcement oath of honor which is “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution and community I serve.”

There are good and bad in every occupation. As such, when it is discovered in law enforcement, it must not be protected but condemned and removed.