The debate on police-community relations is based on misconceptions rather than facts.
Is it just me, or does it seem that the term “improving police-community relations” has become coded language for how to get black and brown people to hate less and trust more of law enforcement? I’ve observed, moderated and participated in countless such conversations on the aforementioned topic and what usually dominates the conversation is how a long history of anti-black racism in America impedes the progress of uniting police and communities of color around the shared goal of safe neighborhoods for all.
My critique isn’t to deny the latter – because America’s anti-black racism has undoubtedly put the relationship between police and black and brown people into a context that can’t be re-framed simply through a few forums and PAL centers – but rather rhetorically inquire as to why White Americans are perceived to not have angst against a government agency that can and has acted as an oppressor of freedoms. Moreover, despite the popular culture narrative, American police officers in 2013 and 2014 killed more whites than blacks.
The above analysis is important due the inaccurate way a majority of Americans perceive and discuss policing and citizens’ response to it. How we understand tensions between police and community – most black and brown people fear the law enforcement officers who over-police them and wouldn’t shed tears or engage in sympathy upon their demise – may be a scene in the perpetual conflict, but it’s neither the whole nor the only picture.
The other story arch related to police-community relations, one which is severely and purposeful not discussed, is that white men, in 2016 at least, are responsible for more than 70 percent of police officer killings. And if elected President, Mr. Donald Trump, who’s the presumptive Republican nominee and whose voter base is populated by mostly white men, pledged to seek the death penalty for those who kill cops.
But, given Mr. Trump’s nature to flip-flop on positions, and, whereas, this data shows his stance would disproportionately impact his constituency, the pledge, like others he made, will fade into obscurity.
Nonetheless, it matters that white men, more than their black and brown counterparts, are killing police officers because it further implies a sentiment of some that the demographic group most under-policed is responsible for a sizable portion of crime.
For example, black and whites purchase and smoke illegal marijuana at roughly the same rate in cities, but blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested for it. And, as the statistics show, white men are killing more police than blacks, yet blacks remains disproportionately impact by stop-and-frisk.
The data on whose killing police officers in 2016 emphasizes the fact that a large part of the debate on improving police-community relations is based on mis-perceptions rather than facts.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™