No Mr. Coats Police Aren’t Being Asked to Do Too Much, Wear Too Many Hats, Be All Things to All People They’ve Just Been Given the Benefit Of the Doubt Far Too Long

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-myth-of-police-reform/390057/

http://on.msnbc.com/1aVlMyf

Several weeks ago, shortly after a South Carolina man was shot fleeing police during a traffic stop, purportedly fearing being returned to jail for unpaid child support, Ta-Nehisi Coats alleged just that in his article for The Atlantic, that the problems surrounding America’s increasingly embarrassing, increasingly violent police force wasn’t rooted in racism, homophobia, classism denigrating the poor and minorities, abysmal leadership from the top down encouraging brutality, thuggery done with the authority of a badge, rewarding such behavior, rather our insistence on sending police everywhere to do everything, that our fix to every major and minor social ill is the criminal justice system. At first you might think he has a point, identify, agree with subsequent questions asking if Walter Scott’s broken break light required police intervention, Coats’ query of if the police were the best way to handle men who can’t or won’t support their children adequately, especially taking into account how many schools today have called police to arrest early grade school students for temper tantrums, as opposed to their parents, called police about doodling on desks instead of having them clean it and say, all the desks in the classroom, police called break up lunchroom fights where the most dangerous thing wielded was fresh fruit, plastic silverware thrown. And while he is definitely on to something in regards to the reality police cannot be the first line of defense against illegitimacy, child support issues, homelessness, drugs, mental illness, his deconstruction of what’s wrong with policing in America ignores anything apart from ‘we need to find better solutions to social, societal dysfunction than to send in police who specialize in fear and compliance.’ He blatantly, wrongfully ignores cataloged instances where that listed pile of isms and more, city corruption, mismanagement, incompetence played a huge role in the death of another black, male youth, minority person in the prime of their life. He sidesteps the fact that had there not been a racist culture in Ferguson Missouri’s police department oppressing the community, a habit of bilking city minorities for exorbitant traffic fines, Michael Brown might not have been stopped never mind killed, or had he been stopped, had the alleged robbery been discovered, he would have simply been taken into custody to face justice. Dido with Eric Garner placed in a later deadly chokehold, the UVA student with a split forehead, Floyd Dent beaten and bloodied for not getting out of his car fast enough, cops willfully turning off their dash cam but not before savagely kicking Cortez Buford, already subdued. But the solution is ‘whole swaths of the American people should be under the authority (comprised of relationships, allegiances, associations and the consent of those governed by it) of other branches of civil society, not the power (brute force) of the criminal justice system.’ According to him, “The problem of restoring police authority is not really a problem of police authority, but a problem of democratic authority. It is what happens when you decide to solve all your problems with a hammer. To ask, at this late date, why the police seem to have lost their minds is to ask why our hammers are so bad at installing air-conditioners;” most would beg to differ, notably the families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III  and the litany of others whose sons have been slain, not because police are called to every frivolous civil order task, expected to be anyone from teacher to drug/ marriage counselor, but because they can’t holster their gun for a nanosecond, using instead other parts of their training. Of course since then we have seen the saga of Freddie Gray, what appears to have taken place, appalling conduct of officers arresting and caging in a police van, shackled yet unrestrained in a moving vehicle, a man who never should have been arrested in the first place and the protests he inspired toward change that quickly, for a time, turned into riots and looting. We were alerted to racist, homophobic texts sent between San Francisco officers now fired; this on the heels of Florida officers fired for the same thing including a racist video featuring President Obama, the racist e-mails, derogatory references to the president and first lady, proving the opposite point.

Largest fallacy at  issue virtually destroying Coats’ argument and the MSNBC one above as well is, the examples he uses, they use demonstrate perfectly, exactly why police were called in; because, it wasn’t just Tony Robinson was high on mushrooms, had a drug addiction problem. It was that he was high on mushrooms, was chasing a car and probably scaring people in the process. It wasn’t simply that Anthony Hill was mentally ill, had stopped taking his medication; it was due to his mental illness, his ceasing medication that he stripped off his clothes and started jumping off his balcony, alerting passersby to A- indecent exposure and B- a person clearly endangering themselves, potential to endanger others, so police were called. Similar cases abound; the broom wielding man in the YouTube video entitled ‘Mentally Ill Man Waves Broom, Cops Shoot Him Dead And Cuff Him,’ had police called to his home by his frightened mother who didn’t know what else to do in the predawn hours of the morning. Yes Laquan McDonald had PCP in his system, maybe he wouldn’t have felt the need to get high on drugs if he could have succeed better in school, had viable opportunities to go to college, had tangible, meaningful job opportunities. But again his drug use was not why police were called to the stretch of Chicago highway he was walking on; they were called to a report of a person, a man, a male attempting to use a knife to break into cars. Certainly if we had better mental health services, efficient and effective drug treatment programs readily accessible to people needing them, did a comprehensive job of prevention, these situations might be avoided, emphasis remaining on might. If there were more, better social, caseworkers, on call crisis counselors, crisis hotlines, police wouldn’t be called to things that should be handled by the aforementioned professions; however, not only is that a precursor description of utopia, something wholly unattainable, it opens the door to more problems, more laws when we take the chance of issuing APB’s and arrest warrants for people who missed their psychiatrist, psychologist, counseling, group therapy appointment.  When the one thing MSNBC got right, also in the above video, was the panelist who said we have too many laws, too many stupid laws on the books, so many federal laws on the books we can’t even count them, too many petty things police are dealing with they actually shouldn’t be. Where MSNBC got it wrong, the “crazy” institutional structure where police are the first responders to  child support delinquency, homelessness, mental illness exc., ideally we want to catch all social problems before they turn into criminal ones and bad schools in Atlanta should not have merely fed people into the gargantuan incarceration maw we currently operate nationwide; tall orders all easier said than done when the mentally ill, drug addicted person has no close family, spouse, significant other to witness their decline, when their first indication of a serious, serious issue is wielding a gun, threatening someone or an incident where police are justifiably called to mitigate a physical public threat. Police become first responders to deeper issues when they are called to an account of disturbing the peace, loud domestic disturbance, potential domestic violence began over child support, financial issues rooted in cyclical poverty, mental illness or drugs. Still we’ve seen what happens as cities attempt to implement such programs as the author wants to use instead; Arizona has a hotline for anyone to refer another person for a basic 72 hour psych hold, yet it was never used by teachers, classmates of Jared Loughner, nor police’s extended authority to remit someone to same. James Holmes’ college had a threat assessment team, he was seeing a psychiatrist, she reported him a potential danger, measures that stopped, never made it to the unsuspecting community when he withdrew from school; misapplication of privacy law in Virginia lead to the Virginia Tech massacre, allowing Seung Cho to continue to come to class, be out in the community despite a psych eval indicating significant mental disturbance. Had Aaron Alexis’ police report detailing his call to them describing people talking to him through walls, sending microwaves through his body been forwarded, per procedure, to the military base, up the chain of command at the Navy yard where he worked, the shooting there might possibly have been prevented, key word being possibly. And we know all too well the results when citizens, citizen groups go rouge, George Zimmerman anyone; determined to get the thief, the thug in his neighborhood eventually shooting dead 17 year old Trayvon Martin walking to his dads house, using his non-existent affiliation with neighborhood watch to avoid a murder conviction. Michael Dunn’s racist jailhouse writings proving he saw exterminating Jordan Davis over his loud “thug” music as some twisted sort of public service rather than about being in fear of his life. Further Ta-Nehisi Coats provides no specifics, structures, current or created community programs to give alternatives to our so called police state; guaranteed is, if and when you start sending in civilian crisis counselors, drug, marriage, domestic violence specialists, develop additional hotlines, someone will inevitably be injured or killed by a person, place harboring an unknown gun, hidden knife, individuals beyond preliminary interventions. Wasn’t there a scene like that in Patch Adams where the med-students form and impromptu clinic helping people with humor, human connection and standard first aid, Adams’ female classmate goes out to the home of a mentally ill man only to turn up dead? Thus, like in the movie where the students were initially charged with practicing medicine without a license, the question will be, why weren’t police brought in to deal with a decidedly dangerous situation rather than untrained novice civilians; next, calling a crisis line won’t help because the person so deep in their addition doesn’t want help, committers of domestic violence are notoriously arrogant, almost sociopathic, help being the farthest thing from their mind, job placement and related programs to mitigate poverty are a nice idea solution but fall flat in practicality, right now are equally notorious for dysfunction. Crisis lines won’t help when the person dispatched is not their regular caseworker, therapist, personnel whom we can’t expect to be on call 24/7 when it’s difficult enough to get quality persons into this field.

Social conundrums that have nothing to do with unequivocally improper police behavior, sure society would be vastly improved if everything were an economic bed of roses, if everyone had viable job opportunities leaving no excuses for men not to pay their child support, easing domestic tensions in households possibly reducing triggers to domestic violence, increased revenue to cities in taxes alleviating poor neighborhoods, allowing upgrades, continual enhancements to schools, enticements to draw businesses to certain areas. Freddie Gray’s life probably would have had a far better outcome, even before he was put in that ill-fated police van, had his repeated exposure to lead paint not left him with diminished IQ, forced to repeat grades, information housed in a civil suit against their former landlord; lead paint we as a nation should have long before now removed from all buildings. Still he might have fared better, avoided his lengthy rap sheet, steered clear of selling drugs had his neighborhood, either the one in Baltimore or elsewhere, housed more opportunities, been less dilapidated. Fundamentals increased when we remove discrimination from hiring, crack down on poor business practices and unscrupulous firings of employees for petty non-competence, non-criminal associated reasons, went about demanding and instituting internships and apprenticeships to parallel all college and trade school degrees, legally insisted on equal pay for equal work across the board, across the country for women; factors simultaneously doing nothing to solve the endemic problem police do have independent of if The Atlantic piece is absolutely correct, doing nothing to stem the brutality engaged in by police right now, brutality that must be stopped immediately to save lives, brutality evidence proves was never necessary to ensure officer or public safety.  Glaringly then the bigger question is how and why all these incidents, individuals, described in the previous paragraph, ended up dead at police hands; why police felt the need to shoot to kill someone ultimately attempting to commit suicide, felt compelled to shoot to kill a man armed with a standard household broom, why one single officer fired all 16 shots into Laquan McDonald when his fellow officers fired none upon a man armed with a single knife, walking away from police, why Ezell Ford and others, mentally ill, on drugs, fearing a return to jail, found themselves shot in the back. Societal breakdown has nothing to do with why Marlene Pinnock suddenly found herself tackled to the ground, fending off repeated blows from a California highway patrolmen who claimed in his report he was taking her into custody for her own good, finding her walking unsteadily and too close to freeway traffic, or why another California county settled the case of a suspect who fled on horserback to be caught somewhere in the desert, officers relentlessly kicking a man likely already in handcuffs, scene caught by police helicopter footage.  Societal breakdown, doesn’t explain why an officer chose to break a woman’s windshield over a seatbelt violation when her passenger, who had no I.D., refused to get out of the car; actions taken while she is on the phone with 911 alerting them officer behavior was making her feel unsafe. Societal breakdown doesn’t rationalize why an Alabama officer was driven to throw an Indian grandfather to the ground in the midst of responding to a suspicious person call, throwing him so hard he was left partially paralyzed, why an Ohio officer stood on the hood of a car and fired 15 times directly into the windshield killing 2 people inside, continuing to fire, even reloading after other officers had stopped only to say he doesn’t remember doing it. And latest breaking news, bench judge hearing the case finds him not guilty; unless by societal breakdown he means exactly how far we have allowed our police to go in the name of public safety, farthest thing from The Atlantic author’s point. Racism not societal breakdown, as characterized by the recurring symptoms of homelessness, drug addiction/usage, mental illness and an inability, unwillingness to supports ones children, better accounts for why police are willing to negotiate with persons who barricade themselves inside homes, buildings, with or without hostages; because, those persons are usually white, maybe Latino, not black like Jonathan Ferrell who was banging on a strange woman’s door in the early hours of the morning looking for help, disoriented after a car accident, pummeled by bullets from police thinking he was a threat to the women, who called fearing a break in, why civilian Theodore Wafer shot Renisha McBride in the head under similar conditions, encountering her banging on his door after an accident. Difference, he went to jail; the criminal trial for Farrell’s shooter hasn’t even begun, though history proves the officer isn’t likely receive a conviction never mind face jail time. As cultural ignorance, a complete lack of respect for life on the part of police officers better encompasses why wallets, car keys, videogame controllers are more likely to be mistaken for guns, particularly in minority hands, why police shot into a van full of children after their mother believed the traffic stop was finished, officer conduct made her feel increasingly unsafe. The latter demonstrated in the shooting death of Eric Harris, while everyone was focused on Robert Bates, his spotty training, his age and his ghastly mistake, they missed the other officer who says, “[expletive] your breath” as the man bleeds out onto the sidewalk; the comment indicating total unconcern for the human being just shot. At least Robert Bates was shocked, was sorry, understands the horror, or seemed to.

The resounding problem with what happened to 12 year old Tamir Rice isn’t how little we invest in young minds, how little structured activities and safe environments we provide for young people who need something constructive to do after school or on weekends, not even the idea society should provide, supplement it as opposed to parents, kids, as old as Tamir, learning how to entertain themselves without getting in trouble or the too readily assumed “poor” choice of filling his time with an airsoft BB gun. Remember he was a child in a park playing with a toy, something every child should do; every child has the right to do. The problem is what I stated upon first mentioning his case, it could happen with a bright purple laser death ray courtesy of the latest cartoon, a bright green, orange or yellow water gun, because police rolled up and immediately opened fire sans assessing what was going on, sans commands for Tamir to put down a gun they were lead to believe was real, mistook this youth 12, for a black male 20. Not to mention the reason they believed there was such a high threat is due to officers never getting full 911 caller information indicating the gun was probably fake, thanks to a negligent 911 dispatcher, but in this day and age of mass shooters, homegrown terrorists and downright crazies, someone wanted to make sure the police investigated. A situation identical to what befell John Crawford III in a Wal-Mart after an idiotic shopper called 911 about a man pointing, shooting a gun, going so far as to say he was reloading as he spoke, later telling news cameras, in an obvious effort to get his 15 minutes, he was an Army veteran of one branch or another all totally untrue; Crawford was “pointing” an available for purchase BB gun sold in the store, simply holding it as he walked around and the man who made the misperceived, false report was a marine for all of 7 weeks at which time they discover a medical condition and discharged him. Again strange facts aside, police did not assess the scene, notice things like the only fear shown by shoppers is them storming the store, when asking where the guy with the gun is getting shrugs and blank looks, knowing basic things like Wal-Mart sells rifle style BB guns. The problem with the next video below depicting police interacting with a homeless man isn’t a haughty business person calling police to remove the dirty, troublesome vagrant from their establishment lest he scare away business, that the only mechanism we have to deal with homeless individuals is to call police to remove them from such areas, the constant irritant they prove to be to officers who can only relocate them to another back alley, watch them find another unnoticed hole to crawl into. It’s the utter distain, contempt this officer treats the man with, it’s the unprovoked physical abuse he subjects him to, arresting him for the sole purpose of being uncooperative, for essentially needing to use the bathroom and waiting his turn for a bus terminal toilet. The problem surrounding the Eric Garner incident isn’t just that no one should be put in a chokehold for selling a loose cigarette, nor the implication we shouldn’t be arresting people, arresting people so vigorously for selling loose cigarettes, doing so is just another example of stupid excessive laws, a strong hint we should revisit whether selling loose cigarettes should be a crime, it’s that he never should have been put into a chokehold period, but especially not for a non-violent crime, the laughable case of resisting arrest officers tried to claim. The problem with Michael Slager’s encounter with Walter Scott isn’t whether his malfunctioning 3rd break light really warranted police attention, whether police should be charged with dispensing traffic tickets or if traffic tickets are even necessary beyond an easy way for cities to get a little extra money while appearing to look out for public safety; though it can be said there is a section of people, of society who wouldn’t keep their vehicles in standard working order, obey speed limits, red lights without the threat of fine or court appearance. Neither is the problem shown in Michael Slager’s dealings with Walter Scott centered on his fleeing to avoid jail over unpaid child support, that South Carolina is the toughest state on non-payers absent any proof it’s actually working, the wider spread issue across America, across the black community of men who can’t, many believe won’t, support their children; though it’s worth saying jailing people for nonpayment is a bad idea primarily because it then operates like a debtors prison, removing any hope the state, more importantly the child, will ever see monies owed. However proponents will point to the men thrown in lock up, bonded or bailed out who never miss a payment again, because they don’t want to go back to jail, saying see it worked. Perhaps the solution to legitimacy, in the black community or otherwise, is to cease using the term as it refers to the birth status, societal status of children, a profoundly religious distinction anyway; note native Americans and other native cultures don’t have this problem. Removing religious based moral expectations might be another step worth taking too; religious mores that insist men and women be married before having a child, still try to insist they stay married for the children, socially punishing people who don’t follow the paradigm. Religion that chastises fathers for walking out on an untenable relationship, but coddles mothers of the children who contributed to relationship dissolution encouraging them to think him a deadbeat, allowing women who refuse to let a man see his children if he can’t pay child support but wants to be involved, is earnestly looking for work, returning to school to better his chances. Instead of, if you are proven by the court via a DNA test to be the father of a child, you must support it based on your income and means; the money goes to the child and if it is found funneled elsewhere, the monies either cease or a 3rd party, not the mother is placed in charge of them, preventing women from using their child as a free paycheck, means to get what they want sans work, another reason why men repeatedly refuse to pay. Again, none of which being the problem with Michael Slager’s actions toward Walter Scott; those involve tasing him then shooting him in the back, as he ran away, then claiming the all too familiar defense, I was in fear for my life. Worse despite vehement claims to his superiors he gave, attempted to give Scott CPR video shows him standing over the now dead man, taking with on scene officers, rifling through his pockets, but never giving CPR; even at one point laughing during his description of what happened with Scott.  And, these, these are the actions people want done away with, especially amongst officers of the law, people sworn to uphold it.

Signaling police reform is not a myth when it comes to stopping immoral, unbecoming, dangerous and most of all, decidedly illegal, police conduct; changing how things are done from the top down eliminating the use of citizen infractions as city revenue streams, when it comes to stopping overly aggressive policing of petty crime, without ever assessing which petty crimes done by which type of criminal escalate to bigger illegal exploits, usually implemented to look tough on crime to the citizenry while running for reelection as politician X police top administration appointment Y. Marked reforms that halt incentivizing thuggish, brutish behavior, not only as a course of action but a means to promotion, police who got to where they are, achieved the rank they hold by beating, kicking, choking, punching people suspected not of rape, murder, child abuse, as if there is ever an excuse to physically unload on a non- aggressive person, but on people pulled over for traffic violations, arrest warrants for child support, supposed selling of loose cigarettes, petty theft, noise complaints, minor trespassing, people fleeing police never sure what will happen. De-incentivizing prison systems too, taking them back from for profit hands and rewarding them for the non-violent, low recidivism rate people they move out, not how many they keep in regardless of offence. Police reform is not a myth taken in the context of restoring the honor and respectability, integrity to the badge, reviving, reinstituting the concept of protect and serve; Coats himself admits, “The skepticism of Officer Darren Wilson’s account in the shooting of Michael Brown, for instance, emerges out of lack of police authority—which is to say it comes from a belief that the police are as likely to lie as any other citizen.” And oh lie they have; it was never just that Eric Garner was placed in a chokehold, whole thing caught on film; that was bad enough. But what incensed everyone, had them marching, holding die-ins, chanting black lives matter is the nerve of the officers involved and the police union to call it a seatbelt maneuver, to try and split hairs over what constitutes a chokehold versus other restraint types, when a man is dead; it’s that officers rolled up on Tamir Rice opening fire without ever giving him a chance to drop his “gun,” then when video emerged, changed their story. What set the public to rioting in Ferguson were the entrenched conditions coupled with police who could not give a coherent, consistent reason why they stopped Michael Brown, tried to make it about a grainy, suspicious video released on the basis of freedom of information requests. Police reform is not a myth when it revolves around also restoring basic competency assessment and completion to standards for officers, including knowledge of the law, knowledge of common, not just specific department’s procedures, CPR and first aid certification federally mandatory, competency standards through all ranks top brass and administration as well. Were officers as competent as we once believed them to be, they never would have stopped Kametra Barbour’s red car containing her and her 4 children when they were looking for a tan car, a totally different make and model, housing 4 males and a possible gun; had Darren Wilson been better trained, followed that training he never would have parked his car in a way he couldn’t drive it off either in pursuit of a suspect or to protect himself, he never would have been sitting on a less lethal form of defense, protection (his baton), never would have allowed a potential threat so close he couldn’t use his pepper spray because wearing contacts he wouldn’t be able to see, never allowed on the police force because his eyesight could create just such a scenario. Had police officers been competent, they would not have mistaken a 12 year old for 20, nor left him bleeding on the sidewalk with no aid; had officers been competent, even if the worst happened, Eric Garner would have gotten help sooner, his pulse check before telling bystanders he was breathing, he would have been treated as a medical emergency, not just an uncooperative individual. Rudimentary understanding of law and procedure would have kept officers from arresting Freddie Gray in the first place, but even if he had been put in that police van, a mistake made, an ability to follow basic directions would have made sure he was pun in a seatbelt, he would have been directed to medical attention upon request, legal issues to be settle at the station, in a local court at a later date, Gray very much alive. Hardly mythical reforms that would ensure top officials in Washington State understood their policy on use of force, so lower officers could too, perhaps stopping the Mexican national from being shot in the back leaving behind a 13 year old over a rock thrown at police already protected in riot gear as part of a protest. Tangible reforms preventing the pay to play model that got Robert Bates deputized to begin with, apparently sans anything close to the proper training, falsification of his records going unreported, giving him the attitude he could do whatever he wanted, forget tagging along on a sting operation he was wholly unqualified for resulting in the death of Eric Harris. Further it would have prevented the judge arraigning Bates on charges of second degree manslaughter, because of the seriousness of the charge, his considerable means, if not because of his brazenness in asking of he could go, how he could possibly be thinking about a vacation after killing a man, extinguishing a life, accident or not. What happened to police living and working in the same community, being part of the neighborhood, kids going to the same school, knowing the people and the issues; new officers working also living there given a training tutorials based on community dynamics rather than now being only occupiers?  Then, seeing all this revamped, you have the authority, i.e. respect you need and an opportunity to use less force, avoiding lethal force altogether.

“But for most Americans, the police—and the criminal-justice system—are figures of authority. The badge does not merely represent rule via lethal force, but rule through consent and legitimacy rooted in nobility. This is why whenever a liberal politician offers even the mildest criticism of the police, they must add that “the majority of officers are good, noble people.” Taken at face value this is not much of a defense—like a restaurant claiming that on most nights, there really are no rats in the dining room. But interpreted less literally the line is not meant to defend police officers, but to communicate the message that the speaker is not questioning police authority, which is to say the authority of our justice system, which is to say—in a democracy—the authority of the people themselves.” [Sic] Wrong, most people say that about the police because they understand, have firsthand experience, all officers are not the same, all officers are not defined by the horrible actions of a few, all officers are not racist, homophobic, class discriminative, imitating brutish thugs, treating the suspected criminals, petty thieves, loose cigarette sellers, traffic violators, the mentally ill, homeless persons like vermin, trash under their feet. We have seen officers give a woman a car seat instead of simply writing her a ticket for not having one, we have seen police buy Christmas decorations and gifts for families victim of robbery or fire, one officer giving a homeless man some shoes who had none, one officer stopping to play football with a young man he saw playing on the sidewalk, show up to a special needs child’s birthday party, rescue children at risk of themselves, pull people from cars, go above and beyond for the better of their community, their neighborhood, their fellow human being, a part of policing that still exists in America. It is time to restore that once nobility to policing and police officers across all America today, to weed out the bad apples like Daniel Pantaleo who had prior complaints against him for false arrest including assault that allegedly included a strip search and touching genitals, officers like the one responsible for actually shooting Tamir Rice who was about to be fired by his former department  for inability to manage stress, an inability to follow directions, a tendency to think rules did not apply to him, exactly who you don’t want interacting with the public, in a position of authority. People who shouldn’t have passed the police department psych exam if Michael Brelo is any indication, the Ohio officer who stood on the hood of a car, fired a double digit number of shots then purports not to remember doing it, the officer who fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald when no one else felt the need to fire one; if you are going to black out like that when there really was no immediate threat, despite the police chase and the amount of cars involved, the last place you need to be is in law enforcement. Again, why the need to kill Tony Robinson and Anthony Hill, Ezell Ford; why couldn’t they apprehend Robinson, let him come down off whatever he was on in the local version of a drunk tank, face a judge on whatever likely misdemeanor, charge he was arrested under, part of his sentencing a choice between counseling for recreational drug use, drug treatment for actual addiction and/or added time in jail? Why couldn’t Anthony Hill be apprehended and remitted to the local hospital psych ward instead of facing jail, or in his ultimate case, death; dido with the broom wilding man who had just been released from a psychiatric facility, put him back in the program, institution he was in for continued treatment?  Ta-Nehisi Coats is fond of saying police shouldn’t deal with this, asserting police are not social workers, drug counselors and the like, but they have ever been a conduit between the public, people in need and social, mental health and drug addiction services, more that needs to be restored. To that end, why wasn’t Ezell Ford’s family given connections, numbers of facilities for mental health, care and minder services for persons with autism, similar disorders? Why toss the Indian grandfather to the ground let alone hard enough to paralyze him; it was plain he could not speak English, speak English well, still there was no attempt to communicate with him, whip out your cellphone see if there’s an app that can at least identify what language he speaks, try to ascertain where he belonged, find the caller, ascertain if he was the source of the missing persons call, just slammed to the ground and handcuffed for walking down a sidewalk in his son’s neighborhood. Has that officer been a member of the community he probably would have known this family their unique heritage and understood he was visiting, n newly arrived, something, able to take him back. Why not let the homeless man simply use the bathroom, what he was loitering there for, then escort him off the property, he was happy to leave, offer him a lift, directions to the local homeless shelter. That’s not being asked to fulfill the role of marriage, drug counselor, mental health professional, social worker, domestic violence specialist; that’s simply funneling them to the appropriate people. And if that is too much for police, then we have employed the wrong officers for a lot of years.

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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