When the Trust-Bank Gets Overdrawn

140722-filming-police-cover-1340_f8653fb299543f9ded9510b01a443326The Associated Press reported early this morning on a shooting in Los Angles. Within the first 12 hours, a video taken by a citizen on the scene had been viewed 4.3 million times.

Last week, a citizen video caught a Florida police officer slapping a homeless man. Within 2 hours over 200,000 people had viewed it on YouTube and by the next day it had over 2 million views.

This is the immediate world in which police now live and work. And in an atmosphere of mistrust, this is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

I have strongly argued on this blog that police need to take immediate and authentic actions to try and rebuild trust. My recommendations have ranged from a national apology to individual officers re-committing to fair and respect treatment of those whom they contact.

But all that will take time. And I know that significant organizational change – say from moving away from increasing militarization to one of more community orientation will take a decade or more.

So what can be done in the interim. The immediate action that must now be done as other changes are implemented is to open up the organization; increase transparency and allow close oversight by the community.

These are troubling times for police. I hope they realize that staying the course, hunkering down, and hoping all this anger and mistrust will go away will not work.

Arresting people who video police actions and operations will no longer work. Closing records and refusing public comment will not be acceptable. Change and transformation are in the air. The question is whether police leaders will adapt or resist; whether they will lead or be dragged along.

The are big stakes here — the honor of those who police our great society. And I mean it.

Here’s what we know so far about what happened in Los Angeles yesterday…

“In a fatal encounter captured on video, three Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a man on the city’s Skid Row during a struggle over one of the officers’ guns, authorities said.

“The graphic video widely circulated on social media within a few hours of the incident Sunday brought attention to the death of the man who wound up wrestling with police amid the tents, sleeping bags and trash of Skid Row, where many of the city’s homeless stay.

“The three officers, one of whom is a sergeant, shot the man as they struggled on the ground for control of one of the police officer’s weapons, after a stun gun proved ineffective, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said…

“On the video – which had been viewed 4.3 million times over the first 12 hours that it was posted – six officers can be seen responding to the scene. They begin wrestling with the man as he takes swings at them… Two of the officers break away to subdue and handcuff a woman who had picked up one of their dropped batons.

 “The struggle becomes increasingly blurry and distant, but shouting can be heard, including the word, ‘gun,’ followed by five apparent gunshots.”

We don’t know what happened, but in the meantime, over 4 million citizens have already made judgment both for and against.

That’s what will happen when the “trust-bank” of our nation’s police gets overdrawn. Solving the problem is the job of all police because it affects every police officer in America, not just those in Los Angeles, Ferguson, Staten Island or Cleveland.

6 Comments

  1. That trust fund has long been empty when it comes to the police dealing with minorities, labor unions, etc. You forgot to mention the Chicago Police’s torture chamber which was the percusor of our prison at the Naval Base in Cuba which was developed with the help of one of the Chicago police officers.

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    1. I saw that. Really necessary for our police to be separate from organizations like the CIA. I understand that the President’s Task Force on Policing is recommending something I did years ago — my officers were not to be used as immigration officers. When police aid immigration, it puts all non-documented folks in America in danger for they will not report crimes against them for fear of being deported. A good recommendation!

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  2. I still think that our local police need to enforce immigration laws since these people did break the law in coming here. In Mexico, it is a felony to be an lilegal immigrant in that country and the government takes it seriously; however, I don’t like it when Mexico butts its nose in our immigration laws.

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    1. Gunther, I would have to disagree about your immigration position, To have local police enforce immigration laws puts every non-documented person in jeopardy because they will not report crimes against them for fear of being sent back home. I am not against having immigration laws, I just want the feds to do it and not police.

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      1. You would probably have to put more federal officers away from the borders and more inland in the USA which is happening right now with all these custom/immigration checkpoints 100 miles from the US border which is getting a lot of people mad because they don’t like the cops asking them if they are US citizens. How would Latino and Asian immigration officials would like it if I was stopped at their checkpoints and I asks them are they legal residents of the USA in order to apply for government jobs or are they illegal immigrants who submitted fake documents in order to get the jobs?

        In addition, you have local business people and loacl politicans being so upset because many of them hired illegal workers and do not want to hire American workers. There was a factory plant in Texas I believe where the entire workforce was made of illegal and when the feds raided the place, the poor owner (an American) was complaining about having to go out of business because they took away his entire force (he was arrested for violating immigration, law, and safety laws). You had another town in Georgia where the feds raid a place. The workers in that place made up about 1/3 of the town’s popluation, and the owner of the place was a family member of the mayor and both he and the mayor complain about the raid. The mayor should have been arrested if he had knew about his family member having illegal workers (being an accessory). When Pete Wilson was a California Senator and then a US Senator, he prevent the immigration officials from raing the argi-businesses who employ illegal workers and then when he became Governor, he had the audacity to complain about immigration in this countyr. He should have been arrested and trhown in pirsion. Thanks to 9/11, immigration (both illegal and legal) has been no longer a problem in the USA particulay in the South although you have guys like Bill Gaties who want to bring in more tech workers from other countries instead of investing in American workers.

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