Editorial: Better Police Training

Greater familiarity of officers with the people and areas they patrol is crucial
Editorial: Better Police Training
Un altar improvisado honra la memoria de "África"en Skid Row.
Foto: Aurelia Ventura / La Opinión

SPANISH VERSION

Last Sunday’s Skid Row (Los Angeles para NY) police incident is chained to the events in Ferguson, Staten Island and Pasco, where a controversial police intervention led to the death of an unarmed civilian. With all its own individual characteristics, the three cases leave the same bitter taste that we are witnessing a possible case of deadly police abuse.

The authorities have the responsibility to solve a recurrent problem that is generating casualties and is breaking the trust between the police and society.

Worries about those incidents that are straining an already damaged relationship between some police departments and minority communities, led the White House to form a work group that has issued a series of recommendations. They range from the need of special investigations and independent attorneys to determine responsibilities, to the federal collection of data — which today does not exist — such as the annual amount of police incidents resulting in civilian deaths; and more office training dealing with unarmed people who resist arrest for any reason, including mental problems.

It’s not easy to be a police officer in the U.S. This society is armed to the teeth and immersed in a culture that glorifies violence.

The police officers act defensively, and in more than one occasion they see their security threatened and react in hardly justifiable ways, even when taking into account that they have seconds to make a decision.

There’s no justification either for leaving an unarmed man riddled with bullets, in what seems like a war scene. To make matters worse, some police departments patrol the suburbs with the kind of combat gear you might expect in Afghanistan, not the United States.

Some legal reforms must be taken to calm down the community, as well as serious and independent investigations to bring back trust. Continuing training is also crucial.

Primarily, we must avoid the suspicion that police malpractice is not dealt with equally as the small crimes or misdemeanors that end up provoking tragic errors