By now, everyone has weighed in on the various police transgressions all over the country.
The North Charleston shooting video shows an especially horrific situation, a moment made all the more nightmarish because of what appears to be nothing but pure emotionless malice on the part of the cop involved.
Unless it turns out to be a scam, à la “The Running Man,” I can’t see how it can be called anything other than a homicide, with which the now ex-officer is charged.
With this has come a lot of talk about the need for body cameras, sensitivity training and other such quick fixes for police departments across the country.
Underpinning it all, rightly or wrongly, like it or not, is racism.
All these are problems we as a society need to solve. Indeed, I haven’t heard anyone -- at least anyone I can take seriously -- say otherwise.
But I am still somewhat puzzled, even disturbed, by one topic everyone seems to gloss over.
Call me obtuse, but when did I miss the memo stating running from the police is acceptable behavior? At what point was it decided warrants are really just friendly invitations rather than lawful orders and arrest and incarceration merely optional inconvenience? I ask this because nowhere have I heard, read, seen or otherwise been able to infer where anyone considers this aspect of the situation to be part of the problem.
Before anyone starts frothing, marching and/or caterwauling, I will point out that nowhere in this column will you find me condoning the use of excessive force. Obviously, no one should get shot to death over a busted tail light.
“Oops, I thought my Glock was a Taser,” is not an acceptable statement, either.
As far as police harassment and profiling go, I will even agree a pretty darn good prima facie case can be made that I just don’t know what it’s like to be hassled by “the man” because of where I live or the color of my skin.
But here’s the thing: Most people, whether they admit it or not, usually have a pretty good idea of why a police officer is stopping them. And being stopped for a busted tail light is a hassle, but it’s generally not going to earn you a night in the Gray Bar Motel -- unless you’re already wanted for something else.
Like it or not and believe it or not, most people do tend to know they’re probably going to jail and why. They don’t want to go, ergo, they run.
I can’t say I blame the sentiment. But in my experience, the easiest and most effective way of staying out of jail is to not commit crimes or associate with people who do.
OK, so that may be a privileged over-simplification. Maybe in your case, they do have the wrong person.
The problem is, when you run, you escalate the situation. You have at the very least probably generated another charge to a growing laundry list and most likely have antagonized an individual who has, for better or worse and whether you agree with it or not, been given the authority by the state to detain and arrest you and to apply appropriate force to ensure your compliance and his safety.
Now call me crazy, but my guess is antagonizing armed individuals who are already on high alert due to the very nature of the job they do is not the best decision you can make. You may not deserve a flashlight scalp massage, or a ride on the lightning or, God forbid, a bullet or eight in the back, but the fact remains if you choose to escalate the situation by running, then you are at least partially responsible for what happens later.
Don’t even start with the whole “blame the victim” thing. You may not have deserved what you got. I’ll even concede -- no, I’ll state wholeheartedly that you didn’t -- but the fact remains you dealt the hand.
Will mandating that cops wear body cameras help?
Maybe, but like anything pushed so hard and so quickly, I tend to see it as nothing more than an opportunity for gabbling politicians to be able to say they’re “doing something.” And like everything else mandated from the top, it will undoubtedly fall to the locals -- you and me -- to pony up the samolians to pay for it, which tends to breed yet more resentment of “them” no matter how fictitious a figment of the collective imagination “them” might be.
Besides, with all the video we’re seeing from zillions of cell phones these days, is yet another camera really necessary?
Like Robert Plant said, “and it makes me wonder...”