Confidence In The Police

At this moment, public opinion over the police is divided in the U.S.

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Confidence In The Police
Charlotte police released on weekend a camera footage of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
After many protests, the Charlotte Police Department in North Carolina released one of the videos of the incident in which Keith Scott died. What is shown in the dash-cam and body-cam footage do not resolve the public debate about whether there were reasons to shoot to kill. To determine that is not necessarily the goal of releasing the videos, but there is a need to give some transparency to the police’s delicate job.

At this moment, public opinion over the police is divided in the U.S. Polls today show that a slim majority, 52%, is highly confident about the police, and 18% is little or very little. Both are high and low records respectively, according to Gallup. When divided by race, polarization among whites and blacks is very high. Another poll among millenials showed that seven in 10 said that the way police treats African Americans is  problematic.

As much as the Charlotte incident raises worries about police violence against minorities, the attacks on police officers are equally worrisome. It is a complex situation.

What is beyond doubt is that confidence in the police has changed. Precisely, bystander videos have shown the officers’ lies and cover-ups. This mistrust is manifested when cameras are put in uniforms but the tapes are only shown selectively, following an unknown decision process.

For example, Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney first said that he would not release the videos out of respect for the deceased, and now he is keeping two others in order not to jeopardize the investigation. Divulging that the suspect was armed do not seem to affect the investigation, but other videos of the incident do. This selectiveness in what is revealed and what is not is only raising more doubts, and for good reason.

It is necesary to unify the standars by which it is determined whether to release police videos. There may not be a single formula as each case is dfferent, but a police commission integrated by civilians, as it exists in many cities, is the right place for those decisions. It’s what is just right. After all, videos are paid for by the taxpayer, and the police is a public service.