Dear Police Chief:
Stephon Clark of Sacramento, California. He is the most recent victim in the reality that police departments across these United States of America have not called time out, or ordered a “stand down” to rethink how the police are taught to deal with black men during a police stop or police chase. As a black man myself that tells me that there is a chance that I too might become the victim of being shot and killed by a police officer. In addition as the recent incident at a Starbucks shows, black men can be called out for just sitting in a public place awaiting a meeting.
Question. Has your office reviewed your use of force policy with your police officers? If not, why not? Are you okay that under current policies the death of another unarmed black male may happen under your police force during a police stop or chase?
Let’s pause. I understand that being a police officer is a difficult job and requires on the spot decisions. We are all thankful for those situations where the police actually protect and serve the public. But, that does not mean police officers are allowed to make mistakes and kill people based on biased fear. No one wants to hear about the death of a police officer in the performance of their duty.
We also do not want to hear about another unarmed black male being killed due to the biased “fear” of an officer. If an officer fears for their life when in the presence of a black man, they may be in the wrong occupation. Being a police officer does not mean you have the right to shoot first does it?
Incidents continue where police use the excuse of being in fear of their lives to warrant killing black men during confrontations. It is as if Police Chiefs and Mayors of cities throughout the United States are okay with these incidents of black men being murdered by police under the umbrella of “fearing for your life.” Just as students in school are tired of being victims of shooters, we as black men are tired of being victims of police who perform their job in a fearful “shoot first” manner.
The talk about implicit bias existing within police departments has apparently not lead to a review of how police are hired and trained. Use of force procedures throughout the United States have not been reviewed and how to engage black men not reviewed. It’s still the same “shoot at any opportunity to end a situation” especially if the situation involves a black male. It appears as if the death of the black man is irrelevant as long as the police survive the confrontation alive. In the case of Stephon Clark, shooting at a black man 20 times (several times in the back) for having a cell phone in his hand is on what page of your police training guide?
You fear the wrong people. Have you not noticed that it is white teenage males who are killing people in schools? Your police officers probably drive by these same white teenage males everyday without a worry or fear. Why? Because they don’t fit the “fear” stereotype that has become institutionalized against black males.
As the person in charge of your police department I have several questions for you. Have you gathered your fellow police officers together and reviewed the use of force procedures to specifically follow when engaging a black male? You may say why do so for a specific group? Because police are consistently and methodically murdering persons in this same group time and time again. Do you screen future and current police officers for their ability to engage a black male without killing them? If you have not done so you will, if you haven’t already, be in a situation where you will be responding to the death of an unarmed black male by one of your officers.
As students in schools have recently said, enough is enough. Well that applies to black men also. We as black men apparently are lower on the ladder of importance in these United States of America. We want a change. A change that allows us to have a better chance of staying alive after an ecounter with a police officer.
We believe that there are many good policemen and women among your force. We also believe that there are many police who should not be on the police force. The time has come to retrain and weed out the worst of those on the force. Doing so will save the lives of black men and keep families from being torn apart when a black man is killed.
Dialogue is better than conflict, do you not agree? What are you doing to ensure the situation improves?