It seems that America has continued to have many instances of police officers killing black men. Surely, there are occasional run-ins with other minorities, even women, but it is mostly black men who are shot and killed. And in some cases, the police officer, doing the shooting, is also black. I have known many police officers and federal agents over the years, and they are all good men? So, why are there all of these fatal black-white confrontations?
The law enforcement officers that I have known come mostly from the upper- working class, and are generally well-educated. Sociologists have suggested that some members of the middle-income group, especially from families who have worked their way up, tend to be more resentful of upward-mobile members of lower-income groups. And thus, they might carry subconscious characterizations of various minorities, even though they are not personally aware of, or perhaps ignore, that fact.
Additionally, over the past few years, the Justice Department has been investigating certain police departments—such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland—to determine whether there might be some systemic reasons why blacks are treated more harshly than whites, and perhaps denied their Constitutional Rights. But, something apparently does happen, at least when some officers put on that badge and uniform.
The recent shooting death of a black father-of-four, in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a good case in point. Several police officers, responding to a call, came across Terrance Crutchfield, age 40, whose vehicle had stopped running in the middle of a one-lane roadway. Several of the officers had their guns drawn, when a white female police officer fatally shot Mr. Crutchfield. Police body cameras, from various angles, indicate that the motorist was standing in the middle of the road, and was clearly holding his empty hands high in the air.
Obviously, there are always details which are generally unknown, except to the police at this time. Media reports, however, cited such police radio comments as: he looks like a bad dude; he might have a gun; and he looks like he’s (high?) on something. After the officer shot Mr. Crutchfield, she said that he didn’t get down on the ground when she told him to. A motorist with a stalled vehicle?
Would Mr. Crutchfield, looking at several police pistols directed at him, really want to get into a gun fight—at point blank range? What does it mean that he looks like a bad dude? Police departments have roadside checks for DUI; but that shouldn’t result in being shot! Also, Mr. Crutchfield does have a police record, dating back to his teenage years, and he did serve four years in prison, ending in 2001. But, that is not justification for the use of lethal force. Isn’t there something in the “Spirit” of our laws about: “…having paid his debt to Society?”
Consider the comment by the police officer who killed Mr. Crutchfield, after she shot him: “He didn’t get down on the ground when I told him to!” This is truly a case of Racial Profiling gone awfully, awfully bad. Personally, I surely wouldn’t have gotten down on the ground either, even if ordered by a police officer, when they were responding to my stalled automobile. But, I wouldn’t be dead; because, I am white!
Surely. there are other, more capable people who are trying to get their arms around this problem—both in Tulsa and numerous other cities around the nation. But, there also needs to be better screening of police officer applicants, to include: psychological screening for temperament; establish some acceptable minimum of racial and ethnic intolerance; the ability to think rationally under stress; investigate why an officer was fired from a prior police department; and adequately understand an applicant’s over-enthusiasm about our Second Amendment Rights.
NOTE: Perhaps even veteran officers need to go through such screens, say every ten years or so, to prevent burn-out and the negative results of job stress.