By Joel D. Joseph
(Mr. Joseph is a civil rights attorney.)
The police have a problem with killing too many citizens. They kill far too many black men. They also kill far too many white men and Hispanic men as well. Some cops may be racist, but most of them are just too quick to use deadly force, becoming judge, jury and executioner all at the same time.
Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. African Americans account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.
The police rarely shoot women. According to the Washington Post, of the 6,240 people killed by police in the United States in the last five years, "only" 277 were females. Ninety-six percent were males, while only 4% were females. Are the police sexist? Probably not. Are they racist? Maybe not.
Let me start with saying that no one should be killed by the police unless they start shooting first. Police have the right to defend themselves and fire back. In Great Britain, during the same period, 17 civilians were killed by the police. At the same time, police also killed 100 children during this period in the United States.
American Police are Too Ready to Shoot
Police officers in the United States have a more difficult job than those in Britain or other countries because the USA is awash in deadly weapons owned by civilians. Every time an officer approaches a car, or a person on foot, he or she could be shot dead. Nonetheless, police officers in the United States need to be retrained to minimize the use of deadly force by learning to:
1. De-escalate the situation; negotiate.
2. Use non-deadly weapons, including tasers, although tasers have caused death.
3. We should develop more non-lethal weapons.
We Tranquilize Bears but Kill Humans
We tranquilize bears don't we? Why do we shoot humans, and tranquilize bears? According to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, a bear was spotted walking through a California neighborhood and the police were called. The police shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun and then transported the bear back to a remote wooded area where the bear woke up and lived.
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