I cut my newspapering teeth dealing with city police, sheriffs, deputies and highway patrolmen. I trusted the lawmen – and never found a reason to doubt them on the crime beat.
Political considerations are another matter – especially with elected sheriffs. But, when dealing with the police blotter, the jail register and the follow-ups, no problems.
This was 40-50 years ago in Texas. I don’t recall a racist word from any them – and I found a similar situation just over 20 years ago.
So, the current spate of shooting deaths of unarmed Black men – and women, remember Breona Taylor – bothers me from both sides of the guns. I certainly can’t countenance the killings; the evidence disturbs. But, I refuse to believe that all law officers are guilty by association for the actions of others. I’ve known too many good ones.
Maybe the “abolish the police” idiot fringe needs similar experiences with which to balance outrageous incidents that indicate law enforcement biases in certain locales.
Aurora, CO, a Denver suburb, was the site of the death last year of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, accused of nothing, who was stopped walking home from the store. He was declared brain dead three days after being tackled, put in a choke-hold and then injected with “a ‘therapeutic’ amount of ketamine to sedate him while officers held him down,” as detailed by The Cut
Just last month, CNN reported that ”Brittney Gilliam was with her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister and 14- and 17-year-old nieces…when police drew their weapons on them….Gilliam and the four girls are all Black.”
The Aurora police somehow confused Gilliam’s vehicle – with Colorado plates – with one that had been reported stolen – with out-of-state plates.
Gilliam and the girls were forced face down on the pavement, three of them were handcuffed.
Also last month, Fox News reported: “A gang of sheriff’s deputies called the ‘Executioners,’ has ‘permeated’ a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department patrol station and has engaged in civil rights abuses against the public, according to a claim filed with county officials last week.”
In Oklahoma in 2015, Robert Bates, a 73-year-old reserve deputy, reached for his taser, grabbed his gun and shot and killed an unarmed Eric Harris, a Black man who was the target of a drug sting.
Bates was convicted of manslaughter and served time for the killing.
These and other awful incidents, such as the death of George Floyd (“I can’t breathe), deserve the publicity they receive. You can’t address problems if you deny they exist.
But, serious problems deserve serious responses.
There has been something wrong with the Aurora Police Dept., whether it has been remedied or not. There are also 245 other policing agencies in Colorado that have nothing to do with the problems in Aurora.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Fox that, “he removed the entire leadership of the East Los Angeles station when he was confronted with allegations about a group of deputies in a similar clique after taking office in 2018.”
There are another 24 county substations in Los Angeles.
Oklahoma has 483 law enforcement agencies.
There are many law enforcement professionals out there keeping us safe. The evidence tells me that the good ones are in the majority.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)