“The civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order,” the Oxford Dictionary says. If you are a sane person, this sounds like a pretty good thing to have. Believe it or not, however, today’s society seems to disagree!
When it comes to policing in 2016, an officer of the law is more vulnerable than ever before. With racial discrimination at its peak in more than sixty years, falsehoods being peddled evermore ferociously, and misconceptions of the police floating about on the news and the internet, America has come to believe that police are unjustly targeting persons of color. This claim has led to hatred for our police officers across the country and has even led to police officers being murdered. But is this claim true? Is this hatred justified? Are cops really targeting blacks?
Is It A Race Issue?
Unfortunately, the last four years have seen arguably the largest racial divide in decades, especially with regards to police brutality. A July 2016 Morning Consult poll gives some indication that the view of police officers in America is very different based on race. Only 12% of whites are worried that they or someone they know could be a victim of police brutality whereas the number for blacks was 49%. Additionally, 39% of whites viewed police violence against the public as a serious fear, while the number for blacks was a staggering 78%.
The animosity toward the police amongst blacks is, many people would have us believe, because cops are unjustly and disproportionately arresting and shooting black persons. Yet studies say otherwise. Consider, for example, a Washington State University experiment that took 102 police officers of different race and put them in front of a life-size video lab screen. The lab screens then played hypothetical scenarios in which the officers would choose whether or not to shoot an armed white, black, or Hispanic criminal. The findings showed that the officers pulled the trigger on whites and Hispanics a lot quicker than they did on blacks. And when the officers did not shoot in the scenario, the criminal in that scenario was five-times more likely to be black than white or Hispanic.
Another study done in 2012 by former police officer and professor of criminology at the University of St. Louis, David A. Klinger, showed that 300 interviewed police officers, who had all been involved in shootings, were less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Researchers have found no positive association between police shootings and race. Yet America has found itself in the position of deciding for these officers why they make the actions they make. This is fundamentally wrong.
Are Police Doing Their Job?
The task of a police officer is to prevent crime and to detain those who do commit crime. Disregarding race for the moment, however, we may ask: are the police actually doing their job? Referring to my definition of police at the beginning of this article, are they preventing and detecting crime? Are they maintaining public order? Are they detaining those who do commit crime? The answer is yes. In fact, policing has been extremely successful in detecting and preventing crime. Consider, for example, that violent crime was at its highest point in 1991, and since that time has been cut nearly in half.
In 2014, USA Today reported that the homicide rate had been at its lowest level since 1963, also being cut nearly in half since 1991. The current methods being used by law enforcement are significantly reducing crime in America. Why, then, is there a reason to complain? In the past 2 years or so, America has taken a 180-degree turn from supporting the police to hating them. As a result, police officers are increasingly being unable to maintain the public order. However, this is not the fault of the police. It is the Black Lives Matter movement that is causing this public unrest as they encourage rioting in the streets, blocking major freeways, burning down gas stations, and so forth. So what do we have to blame?
Falsehoods: The Root of All Evil
The reason we have the Black Lives Matter movement and public outcry against our police officers is because of the falsehood that police shoot suspects based on race. President Obama, alas, has been peddling these sorts of falsehoods that have led to this civil unrest. For eight years, he has raised racial tensions--more than any other President in history, I submit--and he has been doing it by proclaiming the falsehood that police shootings are indeed fueled by racial bias. John Gibbs, who received his master in public administration from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, wrote an article in which he notes that many black citizens voted for Obama not on his policy stances, but for the simple fact that he would have been the first black President. And yet under President Obama, even blacks agree that racial tensions in America have increased. And they are right to say so.
The idea that police shoot suspects based on race is false. The idea that police are shooting blacks for absolutely no reason is also false. In fact, the unfortunate truth is that cops are disproportionately engaged in confrontations with blacks because blacks commit a hugely disproportionate amount of crime. Heather MacDonald, a scholar for the Manhattan Institute, shows in her Prager University video that in New York City, blacks commit 75% of all shootings while only making up 23% of the population. In contrast, whites commit under 2% of all New York City shootings while making up a larger 34% of the population. According to the Department of Justice, blacks make up 15% of the population in the 75 largest counties in America. Yet they commit 62% of robberies, 57% of murders, and 45% of assaults. Heather MacDonald concludes in her video that “The real problem facing inner city black communities today is not the police but criminals.”
You hear of the police shooting “unarmed black teenagers” on the news all the time, yet the media neglects to provide the public with real statistics. Heather Macdonald explains that in 2014, 6,000 blacks were murdered, more than whites and Hispanics combined. The real perpetrators, however, are not the police, but other blacks. She gives a shocking statistic showing that a police officer is 18 ½ times more likely to be shot by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be shot by a police officer.
So when a black person is shot by the police, is it because of race? The overwhelming amount of evidence proves that the answer is no. Rather, the reason is because blacks commit a largely disproportionate amount of crime in America compared to other races, and because of this they are having more encounters with the police.
How They All Tie Together
The falsehood being proclaimed by our liberal politicians and the media, that police shootings are racially biased, is what is causing the huge racial divide in this country. The hatred toward cops today is 100% unjustified and based off of false claims. The idea of cops shooting black people for absolutely no reason is 100% untrue. We need to be supportive of our men and women who wear a uniform and patrol our cities every day and every night to protect us. Craig Floyd, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said it perfectly when he said “Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”
Regaining sanity vis-a-vis policing will require that we effectively and earnestly work to dispel the falsehood that police officers are unjustly targeting blacks. This is false and all the evidence attests to the fact that this is false. If we do not do this, police departments will be further prevented from doing their job and so prevented from stopping crime and detaining criminals. No one should want to live in a future where criminals will have so much impunity.