POLICE FINALLY TRYING TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE
Recently, in more than 20 American cities, police have been testing the latest “nonlethal” alternative to bullets. The need to find a less-lethal alternative came to an all time high this past year, after multiple African American men were killed during confrontations with police. The tension has been boiling since over a year ago, when a white St. Louis police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. Although, some people claim the police were “just doing their job,” others believe these incidents are bordering on the line of hate crimes.
Police are now testing “blunt impact projectiles,” which will cause suspects excruciating pain but stop short of killing them. Police have always carried nonlethal weapons such as pepper spray, stun guns, and beanbag projectiles, however they aren’t very appealing in “high-risk” situations. The new projectiles, unlike normal bullets, do not penetrate the skin but merely cause the suspect pain, discomfort, and brief incapacitation.
So is this what we have been looking for all along or is it a quick fix to a much bigger problem? Does the race of a person matter when confronted by police? Although, most of us would probably like to say no, we would be lying to ourselves if we did. It is almost inevitable that a person’s race influences his attitude toward a police encounter. Even if we put history aside and just take into account all the high-profile police encounters this past year. To be fair, I am sure even the average white person feels somewhat uneasy when being stopped by the police. But does the average white person contemplate the possibility that a police encounter will lead to a violent confrontation? Your answer to this question may vary dependent on where you grew up and what life experiences you may have had, but I believe the answer more than not would be unequivocally no. Growing up, I was never worried about being randomly search or questioned by police when hanging out with a group of friends. Could your average African American person say the same? Or do they learn from a young age that they are liable to be stopped at any time due to the color of their skin? We have seen through recent tragedies that police are more “proactive” when approaching a person of African American decent rather than White/Caucasian. Is it because the police take into account a person’s race before reacting to a situation or is it because African Americans are more likely to be defensive and cautious at the start of a police encounter due to past police brutality? It is saddening to think that race is still a determinative factor. No person should fear possible violence or humiliation. People are people, and regardless of our race or ethnicity we are all afforded the same constitutional rights and protections.
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