“Black Criminals Now Get To Shoot First.”
These were the chilling words of a black police captain in Boston this weekend.
Speaking not as a black person but a police officer, he voiced the sentiments of many fellow officers who everyday are facing situations similar to those in Charlotte and Tulsa.
As he pointed out, most police officers patrol alone with backup minutes away.
Dashboard and vest TV cameras notwithstanding, they are out there alone at a time when murders are rising.
Events in cities like Ferguson, Chicago, New Orleans and now Charlotte and Tulsa have made police officers more vulnerable. Not only in a physical way, but also legal complications.
The result is the possibility the nation law abiding citizens are less secure.
In years past, police officers often challenged suspects alone.
Today, faced with similar opportunities, officers are either passing up the stop or calling for backup. Federal crime statistics seem to be showing a greater predisposition to opting for support.
While somewhat different, the Charlotte and Tulsa incidents have vastly different outcomes, even though both black men are dead.
Charlotte police surrounded the suspect and order the dropping of the weapon they thought he was holding.
Evan though they are clearly heard asking him to drop his weapon, after shooting critics argue there was no gun. Footage clearly show a gun on the ground.
In the Tulsa affray, a female officer was alone facing a bigger man seemingly advancing towards her. As backup arrived she fired, killing the suspect.
The female officer now faces criminal charges.
It is not our place to argue the incidents or their aftermath.
What we should be aware of is the growing climate of concern by police officers affecting their ability to defend themselves voiced by the Boston captain.
The nation has moved down a path where police are forced to justify their actions.
These actions occur in the micro-seconds of a potentially violent situation.
Who among us truly knows what occurs to officers faced with menacing situations.
What a police officer in such a situation does, says, or thinks can be fodder for others to weigh but they were not there.
They did not have a sense of menace or foreboding.
Having participated in police shootouts and combat, I have an inkling of what these guardians of the peace are facing.
I am also aware of the shrinking support for one of the toughest occupations in America.
Before, we had a national consensus thanking them for their efforts.
Today, we have forces at work questioning actions taken on the street despite rising tides of murder and robbery.
Black leaders condemn police for what they consider extraordinary force. Yet as statistic show, it is more likely a black will kill another black on the streets.
Crowds scream for concern about black deaths.
What is the solution?
More police officers.
Murder rates in Chicago are off the charts and the seeming solution is to add more police officers to the streets.
But if these officers are to be second-guessed for their actions, the nation can expect a heighten sense of reluctance by these law enforcement men and women to be as proactive as crime fighting requires.
The Charlotte police force is led by a black chief. But that should not be the criteria in which we judge their actions.
We should support their efforts to combat crime amongst all races spurred in no small part by lack of jobs and opportunities being experienced by all groups.
This is the time we need to embrace our police, not question every fatal incident by first assuming that the officer was wrong.
Each day, thousands of motorists and pedestrians are stopped for various reasons. Most are valid responses to perceive law breaking. Most end peacefully. Others result in jailing of persons who have broken the law. All will have their day in court.
Police officers need to have the same protections.
Today, in this world, they are being stripped of that right in the court of public opinion. Then, we all lose.