“Police Shoot Unarmed Man” We’ve Seen The Headlines, Now Look At The Numbers

Accountablity

Below are the statistics of fatal officer involved shootings according to a Washington Post study that began in 2015.

These statistics and this article serve as the foundation for topics I plan to discuss in the future.

Fatal police shootings, unarmed fatal police shootings, race as it relates to fatal police shootings, and lastly, the media’s coverage of such tragic events.

A highly contested topic, no doubt. But one I feel needs to be addressed, despite the expected backlash from trolls, anti-police haters, and career criminals, who will likely come out of the woodwork, to spew hate in a feeble attempt to feel better about themselves. That’s fine, their hate and how it plays into the cycle of violence in America will be discussed in a future article.

Here are the numbers broken down by year, race, and a second set of numbers focused ONLY on the unarmed fatal shootings:

Shooting Stats Photo

A few things to note regarding the unarmed shooting statistics.

The Washington Post does a great job of taking their data collection one step further when classifying these incidents. They track subcategories regarding unarmed shootings which are, “attack in progress” and “mental illness.”

These contributing factors alone do not justify the officer’s actions. That is NOT what I am suggesting. However, it helps explain why the incident took place and could justify the shooting.

For example, the unarmed statistics include people who were reported to have fought police, attempted to take their gun, or reached into their waistband or jacket. Though tragic, this could justify the officer’s actions in most cases.

I can already hear the haters.

“Fighting the police shouldn’t be a death sentence!”

I agree. I wish it never happened. I wish people never fought the police. I wish the police never had to shoot anyone. Wouldn’t that be a great society to live in?

Unfortunately, that is not reality.

This does not excuse officers who use deadly force unjustifiably. Nor does it negate people’s bad decisions to fight police, attempt to disarm police, or disobey commands and reach into their waistband. The police didn’t force them to make such horrible decisions, they simply reacted to it.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking suggests we are being rational and honest when assigning blame for what transpired. A difficult task in a country fueled on media headlines and emotion. Most people refuse to actually read an article or gather facts. Instead they opt to take a headline as gospel, good, bad, or otherwise.

Somehow it is lost on some people, if you don’t fight the police, you’ll likely be lumped into the 60+ million annual encounters between police and citizens where NOTHING bad happens. Yes, as of 2015, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 60+ million encounters occur annually between police and citizens every year.

Lastly, and most importantly, a narrative exists that suggests police shooting unarmed people has become an “epidemic” in America. The narrative suggests that the trend is increasing or worsening.

However, a quick review of these statistics collected by a third party, a presumably unbiased news source nonetheless, would suggest otherwise.

In fact, it appears to suggest the opposite, a downward trend since 2015 in unarmed shootings by police in America. Interesting to say the least.

Yet the new rhetoric and sentiment remain, “police are the enemy.”

More on this, the media, and related topics to come.

Be safe and thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

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It’s Been Over Two Years, What Has Kneeling Changed?

Kap Kneeling
Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem continues years later as we head toward Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

A petition calling for performers Maroon5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott on change.org to drop out of performing the Super Bowl halftime show, has now surpassed 100,000 signatures.

The petition which is titled, “Maroon5: Drop Out of the Super Bowl Halftime Show” has been gaining steam in the last few days, refueling the controversy around Kaepernick, the NFL, and the kneeling movement.

A possible secondary goal of simply kneeling during the performance, appeared in a petition update posted by organizer Vic Oyedeji today.

The update includes a link that if clicked, allows you to share a pre-written “tweet” that reads as follows, “@Maroon5, @trvisXX and @BigBoi: #TakeAKnee during your set. Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with @Kaepernick7 and all players who protect police brutality.”

I can only speculate the petition organizer realizes it is unlikely at this point the performers will drop out, so a secondary goal of kneeling during the performance would suffice to spread their message.

So what do I think about it?

I support the ability of anyone to peacefully protest. With that, I have no issue. No one should. I am confused and have long been confused, as to how the act of kneeling will curb or prevent future acts of alleged, “police brutality.” It’s not lost on me that discussions about the topic may be one of his goals, clearly, that goal has been achieved.

I don’t condone police brutality.

Police officers don’t condone police brutality.

Anything involving police brutality or instances of obvious police misconduct, do nothing but make the job of hardworking, honest, police officers harder. With every instance of bad press and embarrassing mistakes, the divide between society and police officers becomes deeper.

This helps no one.

To suggest that police officers today actively support fellow officers with bad intentions is lunacy. The notion of a “thin blue line” covering up misconduct seems even more irrational now than ever, with the implementation of body worn cameras.

Speaking of body worn cameras, nearly every single police officer I know, who wears a body camera, loves them. Why? Because they can operate as they always have, without fear of being lied on. Think it doesn’t happen? Google, “False rape allegation DPS Trooper,” and read how devastating false allegations can be. Not to mention the damage it did to those who only read headlines and failed to see the follow up stories that it was in fact, a blatant lie. The damage is still done, sadly.

If Maroon5, drops out or decides to kneel during their halftime performance, so be it. It will appease some of their fans, maybe anger others who believe that police officers, by and large, do a great job.

No profession is absent of misconduct. It is standard logic that goes without saying. The difference is police officers bear a great responsibility of power and the ability to take a life. Therefore, we hear about their every misstep, on or off-duty. Rightfully so. The old, “held to a higher standard,” adage we hear surrounding police officers will ring true forever. As it should.

So the question is, “What can we do to have a police force worthy of praise in the eyes of Kaepernick and his supporters?”

Is there an attainable and tangible goal we could set and work toward?

Or are we failing to realize that as long as police officers are human beings, we will never have perfection.

Realizing an unattainable level of perfection and supporting a goal of striving for it, are two separate things.

I don’t have all the answers. I certainly would have told the world by now, if I did.

I know one side of the issue involves compliance on behalf of those interacting with police officers. However, it seems society these days is less interested in saying, “That guy could have simply put his hands behind his back, or not pointed that gun, or not swung at the officer, and he’d be alive today.” That too, is a tragedy in my opinion. If we are a society of fairness, we should consider all angles when assessing blame or causation.

I guess we will see what happens on February 3rd.

Ultimately, I hope people reading this realize one thing, police officers want to be perfect.

Any officer who blatantly breaks the law or abuses their power deserves to be fired, and if warranted, sent to prison. It’s that simple. I’ll say it again, police officers want to be perfect. It would make life so much better for everyone.

Damn the humanity.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

It’s Been Over Two Years, What Has Kneeling Changed?

Kap Kneeling
Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem continues years later as we head toward Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

A petition calling for performers Maroon5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott on change.org to drop out of performing the Super Bowl halftime show, has now surpassed 100,000 signatures.

The petition which is titled, “Maroon5: Drop Out of the Super Bowl Halftime Show” has been gaining steam in the last few days, refueling the controversy around Kaepernick, the NFL, and the kneeling movement.

A possible secondary goal of simply kneeling during the performance, appeared in a petition update posted by organizer Vic Oyedeji today.

The update includes a link that if clicked, allows you to share a pre-written “tweet” that reads as follows, “@Maroon5, @trvisXX and @BigBoi: #TakeAKnee during your set. Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with @Kaepernick7 and all players who protect police brutality.”

I can only speculate the petition organizer realizes it is unlikely at this point the performers will drop out, so a secondary goal of kneeling during the performance would suffice to spread their message.

So what do I think about it?

I support the ability of anyone to peacefully protest. With that, I have no issue. No one should. I am confused and have long been confused, as to how the act of kneeling will curb or prevent future acts of alleged, “police brutality.” It’s not lost on me that discussions about the topic may be one of his goals, clearly, that goal has been achieved.

I don’t condone police brutality.

Police officers don’t condone police brutality.

Anything involving police brutality or instances of obvious police misconduct, do nothing but make the job of hardworking, honest, police officers harder. With every instance of bad press and embarrassing mistakes, the divide between society and police officers becomes deeper.

This helps no one.

To suggest that police officers today actively support fellow officers with bad intentions is lunacy. The notion of a “thin blue line” covering up misconduct seems even more irrational now than ever, with the implementation of body worn cameras.

Speaking of body worn cameras, nearly every single police officer I know, who wears a body camera, loves them. Why? Because they can operate as they always have, without fear of being lied on. Think it doesn’t happen? Google, “False rape allegation DPS Trooper,” and read how devastating false allegations can be. Not to mention the damage it did to those who only read headlines and failed to see the follow up stories that it was in fact, a blatant lie. The damage is still done, sadly.

If Maroon5, drops out or decides to kneel during their halftime performance, so be it. It will appease some of their fans, maybe anger others who believe that police officers, by and large, do a great job.

No profession is absent of misconduct. It is standard logic that goes without saying. The difference is police officers bear a great responsibility of power and the ability to take a life. Therefore, we hear about their every misstep, on or off-duty. Rightfully so. The old, “held to a higher standard,” adage we hear surrounding police officers will ring true forever. As it should.

So the question is, “What can we do to have a police force worthy of praise in the eyes of Kaepernick and his supporters?”

Is there an attainable and tangible goal we could set and work toward?

Or are we failing to realize that as long as police officers are human beings, we will never have perfection.

Realizing an unattainable level of perfection and supporting a goal of striving for it, are two separate things.

I don’t have all the answers. I certainly would have told the world by now, if I did.

I know one side of the issue involves compliance on behalf of those interacting with police officers. However, it seems society these days is less interested in saying, “That guy could have simply put his hands behind his back, or not pointed that gun, or not swung at the officer, and he’d be alive today.” That too, is a tragedy in my opinion. If we are a society of fairness, we should consider all angles when assessing blame or causation.

I guess we will see what happens on February 3rd.

Ultimately, I hope people reading this realize one thing, police officers want to be perfect.

Any officer who blatantly breaks the law or abuses their power deserves to be fired, and if warranted, sent to prison. It’s that simple. I’ll say it again, police officers want to be perfect. It would make life so much better for everyone.

Damn the humanity.

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door

Media Headlines Matter

 

Kap Kneeling
Colin Kaepernick, right, and Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game last year. Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Today there was yet another news article published somewhere in the United States about the shortage of police applicants in their jurisdiction. Admittedly, I didn’t read the article. The headline stated what we already know, or at least what any reasonable person would suspect. People aren’t applying to be police officers anymore. At least not at the rate they did in the past. (If you could see me as I write this, I’m displaying my best shocked face).

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past four years. Since the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting and the subsequent riots and protests that swept the nation, police officers across the country have been labeled nothing short of racist and blood thirsty monsters. By and large, thanks to the mainstream media in this country. Why? The answer is simple. The controversy surrounding policing in the recent years has made them money. Sadly, it’s that simple. The more people protested, marched, and held rallies, the more the media could give them the microphone to stir the controversy. The more controversial a topic gets, the more clicks, views, and revenue they make. Their job is to make money. Nothing gets more views than something controversial.

How do I know this? I know from experience in writing and posting articles like this one on my website and social media platforms. The number of “views, clicks, or shares” articles get, seem to be directly correlated to the photo or title that accompanies the article. To test this, I’ve posted the exact same article with two different photos and guess which one got more traction? The one with the more controversial and sad photo. Same article. Same title. Different photo. Completely different results in readership. The photo and title I choose for this article will be relevant the first time I post it. Then the following day I will repost it with an even more controversial person in the photo, I’m almost certain, the results will be completely different. We will see how it affects readership and I will update this article. I don’t like or want to be controversial. I started this to be honest, truthful, and give officers a voice. Their side of the story if you will. But, sometimes controversy happens.

Conclusion, the more sad or controversial an article title or photo appears, the more “clicks, reads, or views” it garners. So maybe we as consumers are also to blame? Apparently, America just loves controversy and sadness. This may all be true, but it doesn’t remove responsibility from the mainstream media to be mindful on how they report facts and stories, or worse, how they choose to skew them.

Basically, media headlines matter.

The narrative they push matters and has direct and tragic real life consequences when they create hate that leads to police being ambushed and killed like in Dallas on July 7th, 2016. Other consequences are less tragic, but equally concerning when it comes to the lack of police applicants nationwide. Soon, there will be a crisis. I’m calling it now. Unless the economy crashes and people are in dire need of jobs, police applications will remain low, continually pushing police departments to levels that put officers and the public at risk. Who honestly wants to work holidays, weekends, and be called a monster for doing your job for $60,000 a year? Not to mention the obvious dangers associated with the job.

Sadly, the mainstream media doesn’t care about the repercussions of their controversy creating headlines. They don’t care if people who once strongly desired to be a police officer, are now rethinking their career choice. Can you blame them? After over a decade of wearing the uniform myself, in one of the largest cities in the country, my simple answer is, NO. I don’t blame them. In fact, I think it is wise to really question your desire to be a police officer in 2018 and beyond. If you really, really, want to be one, then do it. Because those are usually the best ones. It’s not just a job, a paycheck, or something you should do half-assed. It’s a serious job, with lifelong consequences for you, your family, and everyone you deal with. If it’s nothing more than a paycheck to you, you’re likely the kind of officer I wish never became one. They generally seem to become officers that make negative headlines in legitimate way.

Buzzwords like “police reform” now flood media headlines and political rallies because somehow “they” believe “they” can change the fact that every day police officers confront the violence most people deny exists. Yet somehow, “they” get upset when the confrontation turns deadly. Well, let’s keep speaking the truth, “they” only get upset if the police officer survives and a citizen dies. However, if the officer happens to be one race and the deceased another, CHACHING!!! Time for an inflammatory headline! Let’s not worry about the facts or circumstances surrounding the incident, publish that inflammatory headline! To hell with the consequences! Who cares about the facts or the fact the entire incident was on video and  likely justified!? Profit through division. Tell me I’m wrong.

Sadly, no matter how many community events police plan, cute lip-sync videos are made, or ice cream cones are handed out in the summer. One even remotely controversial police shooting and we are back to square one with the help of the media. Police are quickly painted with a wide accusatory brush suggesting that because of ONE particluar incident, we must remind you that ALL police are racist, blood thirsty monsters! It’s like a sad game of chutes and ladders.

Meanwhile police recruiters hastily hold up signs at a job fairs, “Sign up folks! Come join the team! It’s the greatest show on earth! Let’s make a difference! You can help people!” Come on, let’s stay on the honesty train. Times have changed and your good intentions no longer matter. It’s now all about what the media headlines say that define police officers’ actions. The media doesn’t care if you are the best officer to ever wear the uniform, never been disciplined, or have 58 medals pinned on your chest. Ultimately, when given the chance you, the American police officer will be crucified to their benefit.

To my knowledge there’s never been a protest or rally after a police officer was shot and killed. If there has been, please enlighten me, because I am unaware of such an incident. Vigils don’t count. Police haters generally spew the usual despicable response when an officer is killed, “That’s what they signed up for.” Get real. No one signs up to die.

I’ll be the first to say, dirty or racist cops of any kind should be fired and go to prison if warranted. The recent 3 year prison sentence of a Police Chief for framing African Americans for crimes they didn’t commit was too short. The punishment should have been harsher for ruining people’s lives, betraying the trust of society, and tarnishing the badge. His despicable acts have consequences for everyone involved and the damage is permanent and likely irreparable. For that, he should’ve been punished more harshly.

To conclude, I will say this. Police officers don’t become police officers to get rich. They don’t become police officers to hurt people. They genuinely view their job as a way to keep the evil from hurting the good. They know their role is to hold those accountable for THEIR bad decisions. Becoming a police officer, is a way to serve their community and bear burdens of which most people are blissfully unaware. They don’t go into notoriously violent communities – no matter what the racial makeup may be – looking to hurt someone.

The next time you hear about a fatality car accident with multiple people killed, a deadly shooting, or any horrific tragedy, pause for a minute and ask yourself, would you want to be the one rushing to that scene? Do you want to see the dead bodies sprawled across the highway? Do want to see the person taking their last breath after being shot by a rival gang member? How would you feel about the fact the media is able to portray you as a monster or an inherent racist with a few simple keystrokes, despite knowing nothing about you? Despite the fact you rush to those scenes without knowing or caring about the race of the victim. You just want to HELP. Would you be able to handle it? Again, I think we know the answer. When you think about it in these terms, the nationwide police application shortage comes as no surprise. There is an elephant in the room. The question is, how long until it reaches a critical point?

Thank an officer today.

The Officer Next Door