Cops Shooting Blacks

October 26, 2017

Why are professional athletes ‘taking a knee’ during the playing of the National Anthem? Why is this protest happening?

According to Colin Kaepernick, who started the phenomenon:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Noble, principled, self-sacrificing? Or is this action some kind of self-aggrandizement based on illusions that are, in fact, not true?

One of the greatest truths in this whole issue is that “no fact is so faithfully held to be true as the oft repeated lie.” It is interesting that we humans, as intelligent a species as we seem to be, can also have firmly held beliefs that are not factual. We are not, as we would like to think, mechanistic machines with computers for brains, living in a cerebral world of facts. We are organisms of great complexity, where emotions, perceptions, assumptions and other non-factual input leave us with memories that are interpretive, rather than recorded like a video, and are subject to error.

We believe things and interpret events based on our self-interest, our emotional state and our perceptual bias. We do. All of us. And that is why we have courts, to attempt to discover truth in the maze of human frailty and bias, facts and fiction, perceptions and reality. No one is totally objective. No one!

Yet, we seem to be certain of one thing, cops are shooting innocent blacks in the streets and getting by with murder. Certainly, this truth is above reproach. Our national athletic heroes have told us so. And they are using their right of free speech to inform us, rally us to the cause and impact our minds and emotions with this tragic reality.

But, is it reality?

There are many allegorical incidents advanced to prove their case. Many.  MANY? Uh, well, maybe not as many as one might think, given the media coverage of the dissent, demonstrations, protests and riots. Let’s look at the facts as best we can:

  1. University studies by research at Harvard and Washington State University have shown that police do not target black in shootings. In fact, there is empirical evidence to the contrary.
    1. A study by a Harvard professor released this month found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings even though officers were more likely to interact physically with non-whites than whites.

The paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, which examined thousands of incidents at 10 large police departments in California, Florida and Texas, concluded that police were no more likely to shoot non-whites than whites after factoring in extenuating circumstances.

On the most extreme use of force ”officer-involved shootings” we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account, said Harvard economics professor Roland G. Fryer Jr. in the abstract of the July 2016 paper.

Mr. Fryer, who is black, told The New York Times that the finding of no racial discrimination in police shootings was “the most surprising result of my career.”

At the same time, the study found blacks and Hispanics were more than 50 percent more likely to experience physical interactions with police, including touching, pushing, handcuffing, drawing a weapon, and using a baton or pepper spray.

The 63-page study, “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force,” appears to support research conducted at Washington State University showing that officers in simulation tests were actually less likely to shoot at blacks than whites.

  1. Police more reluctant to shoot blacks than whites, study finds – By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times, Monday, May 2, 2016

In the most sweeping study of its kind, police were more reluctant to shoot black suspects than their white counterparts, contradicting the widely accepted ‘racist cop’ narrative driving movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Instead, the Washington State University research, which was conducted before the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, lends support to previous studies pointing to a ‘reverse racism’ phenomenon in policing.

OK, but what about the incidents used by those demonstrating? Are there not incidents of cops shooting blacks in the streets? Of course, there are. Let’s get real here. The very definition of police power is the enfranchisement of violence. We empower the police to use violence in our behalf to deal with the violence in our society. We give then tools to injure and kill and then train them how to use them. This is not an Easter Sunday stroll in the park on our way to church. This is the long-lasting war of good against evil and it is being waged in our streets by brave warriors on our behalf to keep us safe from evil. Evil has no color. It has no face. It has no signs to label it. But it is. It exists, and it has to be dealt with or it will take over. That is its nature.

And there are exceptions to the general rule of police conduct. The vast majority of police shootings are justified. The FBI keeps those statistics. And there are those exceptions where the police officer is charged with a crime in their use of force. That is to be expected, because we recruit police officer from the worst possible pool of candidates – The human race. Robot-cop might be an interesting movie, but it is not a reality. Not yet, at least. And humans are fallible, even with the best of intentions and training. But by-and-large, police actions are the most scrutinized and regulated of any occupation. And that is as it should be. We authorize the police to act, in an instant, without the benefit or judge or jury to make a decision and to end a life. That power, as terrifying and awesome as it is, also comes with the greatest oversight and scrutiny of any in our society.

Yet, we can, without the benefit of facts, or any check to our reality, demonstrate and speak to an incident and conclude, much in contrast to the facts that evil as good and good is evil. We have that right. And the press will follow us and report our actions and statements regardless of their factual basis, because it is news, real or imagined.

Few of those who ‘take a knee’ have been on the streets or have been with the police officers in the deadly shoot out. Yet they presume to know better and to conclude more factually, the reality of the incidents they did not face. Reality does not make a good case for many demonstrations, but publicity does. It works, and the facts be dammed.

Studies, statistics and review boards make a case for our honoring our police forces across this nation rather than condemning them. They are human, but they are in fact a highly intelligent and well-trained slice of humanity that we should thank God exist in our ever-changing, evil impregnated world.

Where are the demonstrations in support of the police who responded so valiantly in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Florida and at other mass shooting incidents? The elevation of a few bad cops or bad decisions should not obscure the greater evidence of valor and bravery that is prevalent and obvious. The fact is, the illusion of pervasive police misconduct is not real. It is an oft repeated lie believed by those who choose to ignore the research and the statistics.

Now let me betray my own prejudice as a writer. I served in police work for many years and have been part of review boards and have served a life time in police service and training. I have been shot at, and shot back. I have been injured and inflicted injury. I have faced situations where the urge to throw down the badge and go home to my family was overpowering. But I did not. And I will admit that I resent ignorant and uninformed celebrities using this profession as a whipping board for personal notice and aggrandizement. I have fought for your right to live the American Dream and to enjoy your freedoms, including to right to speak about things contrary to all the facts. I only urge you to consider your own bias and to research reality before using your celebrity power to influence others.