Police-Involved Shootings Highlight Need for Police Reform & Accountability

By Marc H. Morial

President & CEO, National Urban League

 

As we peacefully protest the police-involved shootings in Charlotte, N.C., and Tulsa, O.K., we urge thorough and independent investigations of, and accountability for excessive use of force.

These incidents, which seem now to occur with frustrating regularity, not only erode the trust between police departments and the communities they are sworn to protect, but also serve to alienate Black Americans at a time when our leaders and institutions need to be promoting unity.

We pray for the families of Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher and for the officers and civilians injured in the unrest. While we must hold police departments accountable, violence is not an acceptable response.

Our 10-Point Justice Plan for Police Reform and Accountability recommends the mandatory use of body and dashboard cameras, comprehensive retraining of all police officers, and the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate police-involved shootings.

Soldiers in the heat of battle have more stringent guidelines for the use of deadly force against enemy combatants than police officers in our own communities. Police work is difficult, dangerous, and stressful. Only the most highly qualified and expertly trained individuals should be entrusted to make life-and-death decisions on America’s streets.

A recent incident in Hartford, C.T., in which officers were recorded conspiring to fabricate evidence, is just one example of the need for independent review of alleged police misconduct. We’ve seen too many officers escape the consequences not only of irresponsible decisions but of blatant misconduct. Only by setting high standards and holding police accountable can we heal the rifts in this country.