Faith in Action

Changing the Culture

Eric Gillis, Editor in Chief

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All across America, deadly shootings by the police has caused an uproar on a never-before-seen scale. Protests and riots in some of America’s most peaceful cities, such as Charlotte, have left people dazed and confused, wondering what is going to happen next. What will be the tipping point to these police shootings, that send the country into chaos?


Across the NFL and other leagues, players have taken a knee, literally, to these shootings. Beginning in the preseason with Colin Kaepernick, players across the league have knelt during the National Anthem, feeling, as Kaepernick stated in his initial interview, that they should not stand for a country that oppresses black people. With each shooting, the protest and demonstration of these athletes only grows stronger and stronger.


The uptick in police shootings and violence, has forced communities across the nation to ask what needs to be done. In many cities and counties, police officers are now mandated to wear body cameras that record every action that takes place during a shift. These body cams are meant to protect not only attacks on police officers, but also protect the citizens the police are serving to ensure measures are not taken too far. The issue with the cameras lies in confliction with the 4th Amendment (the right to privacy and no search and seizures). Although the Supreme Court ultimately ruled audio and video recording to be constitutional, citizens may still feel they are having their 4th Amendment violated. If police are called to your home, the entire encounter will not be recorded and processed automatically on the police servers, regardless of what the issue was. I personally can see where people would not be okay with this new procedure and mandation.


With close to a year in use in some cities, the effectiveness of body cameras are being called into question. Initially, complaints and use of force reportedly diminished in some cities. However, the ability of police to do their job will undoubtedly decrease. If an officer is wearing a body camera, they are likely to be hesitant in their decisions to act. Each and every police officer wants to make it home to their family every day, unharmed. They also want to keep their jobs, however, so in a time of duress, a police officer may not act how they were trained to, for fear of losing their jobs and no longer being able to provide for their families. For example, the death of Keith Scott in Charlotte caused protests and riots in Charlotte that carried on at such an extreme rate, Governor Pat McCrory had to declare a state of emergency in the city. Footage from the dash and body cameras was released but questions were still being asked. The footage was grainy and hard to clearly decipher what happened because each officer was moving.


The lack of quality footage on the body cameras led to stories from each side to conflict. The family of Keith Scott claims that at the time of the his death he was clutching a book in his arms and under medication for a traumatic brain injury causing him to be confused according to his wife. The Charlotte Police Department, states that Scott had a gun in his hands and would not step out of the vehicle when told to do so. Almost any police officer would act the same under the same circumstances. Scott has a history of violence, including against his wife, and was not listening to orders from the police on the scene. The instincts of every police officer are to assume in this situation, that their life is in danger, and they need to protect it.


Much like the Charlotte shooting, the majority of police violence, stems from resisting arrest. The offender, which sometimes turns into victim, does not listen to what the police are telling them what to do. My parents have taught me that when a police officer asks you to do something you do it. You do not give them a hard time, and you do not do the opposite of what they ask you. Regardless of whether or not, they are doing something or demanding something that they shouldn’t be, you listen, especially if they have a lethal weapon pointed at you. You let the incident play out as it will, then take care of it later if they wrongfully stopped you. Resisting arrest never turns out in the favor of the offender. That much should be clear. The police are going to resort to the natural instincts which is to protect themselves, their partner, and all the people around at the time. They will protect at any means necessary, even if that includes using lethal force.
Ultimately, to stop the shootings and violence by the police, and to no longer be fearful of the police, it has to start in the homes. Children need to be taught and educated by their parents to listen to the police. They have to be taught that the police do not go out actively searching to kill people because they are resisting arrest. We must not forget that the police want us to make it home safely to our families as much as they want to make it home to their family. Children must be taught that the police are in place for a good reason. They are there to protect us from harm and danger, not to inflict harm and danger upon us. The change will not come from the use of body cameras, or any other idea that may be proposed in the near future. The change has to come from the adults of today’s generation. We have to educate the youth of today, the adults of tomorrow, if we want to see any substantial change in our society.

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Changing the Culture