CONTRIBUTOR’S VIEW: Change is still needed

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019

Retired corporate executive

About a month ago, in neighboring Coweta County, a sheriff’s deputy shot Nicholas Bolton, an unarmed 34-year-old homeless black man, after a short car chase. 

I will not prejudge the case, but I saw the video and was disturbed by it. There are entirely too many police shootings of unarmed civilians.

I’m not anti-police. I come from a law enforcement family. My uncle was a police lieutenant over a NYC precinct. My cousin retired from the FBI and another was a prison guard. I have Georgia friends in law enforcement. I support appropriate police actions. Things have changed, but not enough, especially for African-Americans like Mr. Bolton, which is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee. As opposed to what our divisive president says, Kaepernick was not dishonoring our first responders and others. He was simply and quietly letting people know that black lives matter in a country where police killed 1,164 black citizens in 2018. This figure represents 25 percent of all those killed by police, although the African-American population is only 13 percent of all Americans. (source: Mapping Police Violence)

Here a dozen suggestions as to how to improve the current law enforcement situation:

4 Hire more police from the communities served, diversifying the force;

4Improve screening of recruits to include mental health and racial attitudes;

4Increase programs that create positive police-community experiences, such as the Police Athletic League;

4Educate officers regarding minorities, including our national history of police overreactions;

4Train officers to specifically deal with the mentally ill and addicts;

4 Mandate body cameras be worn;

4 Modify police procedures and training, emphasizing de-escalation and training officers in how to “talk someone down”;

4 Make routine drug testing of police mandatory;

4Provide greater training to 911 operators regarding how they inform police as to the details of incoming calls;

4 Remove, temporarily or permanently in the worst cases, officers that show PTSD, racism, alcoholism, drug use and/or mental illness;

4Clarify when “use of force” should be taken;

4Establish independent boards of Inquiry to review cases of alleged police misconduct.

If communities want to decrease unnecessary violence committed by local police, they can begin by enacting these remedies. If they prefer not to do so, these cities and counties increase the chances that there will be continuing issues between the police and minority group citizens.