Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, Oct. 23

Letter: Challenges for police


If someone says statistics prove law enforcement is systemically biased against African-Americans one of three things is in play – stupidity, ignorance of the actual facts or an agenda.

Police officers don’t go to work seeking confrontation. Their first job is to come home safely each day.

In a letter to the nation’s police, the president spoke a truth he hasn’t always embraced, “…police shouldn’t be asked to ‘solve issues we refuse to address as a society.’”

Why doesn’t he address the more than 2,200 shootings since Jan. 1 in Chicago – eight of which have been by police?

Why doesn’t he address the Bureau of Justice stats revealing that, in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, blacks, being just 15 percent of the population, were charged with 62 percent of all robberies, 57 percent of murders, and 45 percent of assaults.

The President doesn’t address that over 38,000 police were assaulted last year or 31 murdered this year – 11 this month so far. He doesn’t address that, in practically every sensationalized case of a black person being shot by police, the problem began with the “victim” resisting arrest. Why isn’t he imploring parents and black community leaders to insist that children be taught to simply accept an officer’s authority to represent society, that their first response should be to comply, not resist.

A cop understands that every traffic stop or call can turn dangerous. If they encounter hostility it raises their level of wariness even as they try to keep the encounter cordial.

Police test applicants in an attempt to root out those with combative temperaments and seek out problem solvers. At the same time, officers train in the use of force. If a suspect uses force they train to use greater force. They cannot walk away, they cannot back off or enforcement will collapse.

Neighborhoods don’t see more police because of color - they see more cops where the crime rate is highest. Their job is to protect the law abiding and to enforce the law. Community leaders shouldn’t ask our law enforcement officers to stop doing their job. They should start doing theirs.

Jim Barber


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