Time, April 20, 2015, features fourteen individuals, apparent ages from 12-68, who have been shot by police officers or neighborhood watch volunteers since the beginning of 2012. As all these victims were people of color, a universal cry of racism is heard nationwide. (Perhaps we should see stats about whites and other races killed in similar situations). But who is really at fault? The officer, racist or not, who engages in the violence? The suspect who engages in a scuffle? Or the national system that offers only vague guidelines as to when to chase and when to engage in violence? Is all of the above too cliché an answer?
Certainly, walking home from a convenience store, carrying a bottle of tea, a cell phone and candy is not probable cause for anything. Certainly, the volunteer neighborhood watch individual who disregarded a dispatcher's orders to stand down and let the police take over, wasn't without guilt. But, then, the system that permits anyone -- volunteer or paid officer -- to unleash his weapon and shoot to kill for little or no cause, is a serious, serious problem. And, a similar problem exists in terms of police chases, as well.
The first order of business that nationwide law enforcement should address is when to pursue -- on foot or in a vehicle. A foot chase after a suspect fleeing the scene of a crime, offers little danger to bystanders as long as weapons are not drawn. That is probably the best and quickest way to apprehend them, too. But once the pursuit is engaged, officers need some guidelines. Do we pursue and just surround? Do we chase and tackle? Do we run with weapons drawn? So, you need to know the nature of the crime. A purse snatch? Weapons not needed unless the suspect is armed. Rape? Homicide? With appropriate attention to bystanders, weapons are not only permissible but needed.
Now, a car chase is a disaster waiting to happen. It is my belief that car chases should be forbidden for anything less than rape, abduction, homicide and terrorism. The risk to the innocent is just too huge to warrant or permit them for anything else. Period! No arguments considered! The end! Not for stolen cars. Not for robbery. Not for B & E. Nothing that is not a threat to the body and/or of death. Car chases cause more vehicular damage and threat to life than homicides in any one given area.
By the same token, purse snatching, unpaid parking tickets, B & E's, unpaid child support, fist fights, selling illegal cigarettes, etc., walking home from a convenience store, playing with toy guns, walking in streets, unarmed theft or robbery, do not warrant guns drawn or any other form of violence. Guns in most instances are overkill. Give these officers national guidelines, not catch phrases they can us as excuses for losing their self control, much less for racist behaviors. And neighborhood watch individuals should never be armed on duty even if they have a license to carry.