Letter: The problem with cops killing black men is racism
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.
To the editor:
The killing of black men by police is not only a problem of racism on the part of white police officers. It matters little the color of the officers who unjustifiably kill black men. The problem is racism … seeing black and brown people as “less than” and, therefore, deserving of no respect or safety. Racism is so woven into our culture it is in the air we breathe. When a way of thinking, no matter how despicable, is the norm, we lose our ability to critique that norm. The recent killing of a black man, by five black police officers, reflects this reality.
Racism is going nowhere. The only viable option to eliminate the killing of black people by police involves four steps. First, screen law enforcement applicants very carefully. For example, one psychological test, called “The California Personality Inventory,” measures the attitude of one gender toward the other. A scale, called the “hostility scale,” indicates that the higher the number the more hostility. Something similar can be developed (or probably exits) to measure racism.
Second, extensively train law enforcement officers in the use of excessive force. This includes such things as “group think” which involves the unwillingness of someone to take a stand that is contrary to the group. Training also involves understanding the dynamics of emotional dysregulation in which powerful emotions over-power one’s ability to think clearly.
Third, train de-escalation skills. In every video I have seen involving a killing officers are cursing, yelling loudly and making threats of violence. This behavior always escalates.
Finally, after extensive training, vigorously prosecute and punish any officer who uses excessive force. Every officer will know, with certainty, that use of excessive force will result in punishment. The level of racism may never change. Behavior will.