Given the recent events in America, police officers need to be held more accountable for their actions.
The media has recently brought attention to multiple police wrongdoings that have happened in the past year, and for good reason. Unfortunately, it appears that most of these wrongdoings have been directed towards people of color. The rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans is much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 35 fatal shootings per million people as of March 2021, according to Statista. This is unacceptable.
The death of George Floyd last June has sparked outrage across the country, with many people calling for the reformation of police departments across America.
Police departments need to start re-educating their officers. Throughout the year, the media has highlighted the inadequacies of police training when it comes to firearms, and this is a major problem. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, basic U.S. [police] training programs take 21 weeks (almost five months) on average, whereas similar European programs can last more than three years.
A major issue with police officers shooting unarmed citizens is that they often shoot to kill, whereas, in the majority of situations, they should be shooting to neutralize perceived threats. Police should shoot to wound rather than shoot to kill. De-escalation training is a must, and should be implemented within departments as soon as possible. This should be the first priority of police officers at all times.
If 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was Black, was killed on site by Columbus police for carrying a knife, why was 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who was white and killed two protestors and wounded one with an assault-style rifle, left unharmed and freed on bail in November of 2020?
While the idea of police reform is not a new subject, the movement of “Defund the Police” has been a fairly new term. The Defund the Police movement involves diverting the funds towards other governmental programs that benefit the overall community. Additionally, the funds that would have been taken away from police departments would be put toward programs like education, housing, social work and mental health care that are better suited for certain situations.
The red and blue flashing lights that signify the police do not indicate lights of hope and safety anymore. Instead, people of color fear for their lives.