Police violence – some restraint in order

April 24, 2015

Mike WilcoxWe all would like to believe our local law enforcement agencies have the best intentions at heart. I know I certainly think police officers have one of the toughest jobs in America. Not only a tough job, but probably the most dangerous job of all many would say. A cop never knows what’s going to happen at the next traffic stop. The perpetrator could easily have a gun, and be willing to fire it.

I fear for my sister and brother-in-law each and every day. They are State cops, and damn good ones.
That said, I’m really concerned with the overwhelming number of reports of police violence and brutality, particularly instances of white cops shooting black victims. N. Charleston South Carolina Police Officer Michael Slager gunning down Walter Scott was the icing on the cake for me.

If you don’t know Slager stopped Scott because he noticed a rear brake light out. The 50-year-old overweight Scott had a warrant out for his arrest because he owed child support, and decided to bolt from his car, rather than face jail. Slager proceeded to draw his .45 caliber Glock and fire eight times at the back of Scott. Scott crumpled to the ground, dead, with multiple bullets lodged in his spine.

Now the middle-aged, overweight Scott should have been no match for the 33-year-old Slager. He could have easily run after him, tackled him, and placed handcuffs on the old man. Or he could have used his taser. Instead he decided to pump eight bullets in the guys back- a old man, with no weapon, with no serious criminal past, only running through an open park. That’s insane. That’s murder one if you ask me.

The use of deadly force has gotten out of hand. I will go one step further, the use of tasers have gotten out of hand, as well. The days where cops would use physical force to bring a perpetrator to submission seem to be long gone. Say a wrong word, or don’t obey a command, and you’re likely to get tasered these days.

It is happening in many jurisdictions. It doesn’t matter if the law enforcement officers work for the State, county or local municipality, unnecessary force seems to be common.
And although the proliferation of white cop violence on black seems to be what receives the airtime, there is the opposite- black on white, or white on white. It just seems to be happening a lot these days.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes deadly force is necessary. I believe when Ferguson MO. Officer Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, he had every right to fire his gun. Brown, 6’4”, 300 lbs. was charging at Wilson and then attempted to wrestle the gun from the officer. Before their altercation and he had beaten a shopkeeper. I’m not saying he deserved to die, but Wilson rightfully felt threatened and fired his gun.

As a reporter for a local newspaper, I get all kinds of stories from readers claiming they were beaten, tasered or abused by local police for no reason. Most of the time we don’t even bother checking the claims out, because for the most part, our local cops are good and decent people and would never resort to unnecessary brutality.
That doesn’t mean every local cop is a saint. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been any cases of local brutality. There have. Like the rest of us, officers aren’t always right and sometimes they let their emotions get the best of them.

I guess I’m hoping, whether the jurisdiction be Ferguson, MO. or North Charleston SC. or anywhere else, that law enforcement officers think twice before resorting to force when handling dangerous situations. The needless killing of black men, and the use of police force in general is a societal problem that needs to be addressed by all who serve the public.

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