A recent grand jury verdict regarding the Eric Garner death has caused a chasm between police and the local communities. Demonstrators across the nation have expressed their displeasure and discontent with the police behavior that has lead to death of Eric Garner and the Michael Brown shooting by Darren Wilson. Police have responded to the public by publicizing possible alternatives to circumstances that lead to the Eric Garner death.

Police departments across the nation are rushing to provide new training rules for the use of force and the usage of body cameras. They are considering rules and policies that would prevent encounters between police and citizens that have lead to death of the citizens especially those encounters with minorities such as the Eric Garner death.

The key to every decision not to indict a police centers on the interpretation of the police officers feelings. When a police officer voices that they felt that their life was in jeopardy, grand jurist are more likely to take their side which was the case in the Eric Garner death. In the Michael Brown shooting, Darren Wilson testified that while he was sitting in his care he felt that his life was in danger. In a recent incident, a Seattle police shot and fatally injured a Black man. He stated that during the scuffle with the assailant he felt that his life was in jeopardy.

In many cases, use of force is not criminal because it is assessed at the moment that the officer pulls the trigger. Due to this process, many police administrators are opting to evaluate the behavior of the officer before the usage of deadly force.

In Milwaukee, a White police officer shot and killed a mentally ill Black man who grabbed for his baton. The officer was fired by Police Chief Edward Flynn for the behavior he exhibited before the shooting. The officer allegedly conducted an improper pat-down that led to a confrontation with Dontre Hamilton, who had been sleeping in the park. Officer Christopher Manney is appealing his dismissal, denying the improper pat down allegation, and in his official response, wrote that he feared that Hamilton was possibly armed and therefore posed a threat to his life.

The real problem with police circumstances such as the Eric Garner death is not with the training that they receive, nor the absence of body cameras, it is the way that the police are evaluated. For example, the Town of Vienna Virginia evaluates police officer performance in the following categories.

1)    COMMITMENT TO DEPARTMENTAL GOALS, PROGRAMS AND OBJECTIVES

2)    RESPONSE TO RADIO CALLS AND ASSIGNMENTS

3)    INVESTIGATION OF CRIMES OR TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

4)    APPREHENSION, ARREST AND PROCESSING OF CRIMINAL SUSPECTS

5)    ENFORCEMENT OF TRAFFIC REGULATIONS

6)    PERFORMANCE UNDER STRESSFUL, UNUSUAL OR EMERGENCY CONDITIONS

7)    EXTERNAL PUBLIC RELATIONS

8)    INTERNAL COMMUNICATION AND COOPERATION

9)    REPORT PREPARATION, SUBMISSION AND PRESENTATION

10)           USE, CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT

11)           CONFORMANCE TO DIRECTION AND DIRECTIVES

12)           COMPLIANCE TO POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND REGULATIONS

13)           PHYSICAL CONDITION AND APPEARANCE

14)           CORE VALUES

Out of the 14 categories 9 are directly related to reducing crime. Only one performance category is consistent with how police officers positively interact with the public. Approximately, 64% of a police officers job is directly correlated to crime. Only 7% of a police officers job correlates to positive interaction with the public.

The top category for evaluating police officers in this example is a commitment to departmental goals, programs and objectives. The crux of a police officers job is determined by the goals of the department that they are employed.

Before police departments across the nation provide police officers with additional training and body cameras they need to revaluate the instruments that are used to evaluate police. Otherwise, the criminal elements will win. The community will continue to distrust the police, they will become completely uncooperative in assisting the police with doing their jobs because of incidents such as the Eric Garner death.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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