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Commentary: To serve and protect with a virus
Published on August 28, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Derrick Miller

The Outbreak: Since the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, and despite a few editorials that describe the scope of the problem as if was an isolated incident, it has recalibrated several nerve cells.

derrick_miller.jpg
Derrick Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and finance, an MBA degree in global management and a Master of Science in criminal justice leadership and management. He has been trained as US federal law enforcement officer and been a part of criminal justice field for over 14 years. He can be contacted here: crijm@outlook.com
Why are we here again? August 9, was not a rare occurrence. It was the fourth killing of an unarmed black person by a white officer in five weeks. Many believed this was just another virus outbreak in another region. This is an ongoing question surrounding many police departments’ treatment of poor people, especially in black communities. Like the Ebola virus, many have been seeking to reverse a DNA code to cure an over 200-year affliction since slavery. Michael Brown’s death has revisited a hazardous dark chapter that consistently tests our invariability

These toxic cells are racism, prejudice, economic deprivation, education inequality, polarization, among many other things that often unexpectedly surface. I hope, when the streets are cleared, these issues do not become dormant and life goes on as normal while many continue to struggle with: (1) protection vs. freedom; (2) correctional system; (3) police brutality; (4) tactics; (5) race; (6) culture; (7) abuse of authority; (8) demographics vs. representation; and (9) priority and government role.

The lacking of uniformity in several uneven communities only shows us the struggle between pluralism and elitism. One, police should help the people, and the people should help themselves and, two, the perception that they protect the rich, and suppress the poor create doubts.

The demonstrations that followed were not all infected by thugs or gangsters and only black people. Other races voiced their concerns of what appeared to be a public department with a closed system. Few individuals arrived with infected tissues in an attempt to disrupt good organs. However, the focus was to determine which lives are more valuable between blacks and whites, and stopping undiagnosed quarantine that has been killing healthy cells.

As the world watched, Ferguson law enforcement struggled to maintain order, handling of the protestors made front pages globally on tactics used -- rubber bullets, tear gas and multiple arrests, including journalists.

Sadly, the US is not alone facing scrutiny of police brutality and excessive use of force that have devastated many lives. In the Caribbean, across from the () white sand and blue waters, many of us visitors are struggling. However, racism tends to be muted as it is often between the haves vs. have-nots and concerns of limited accountability by government officials for the have-nots.

Russia and Iran appeared concerned despite their poor records on dissenting views by its citizens. However, I am not implying one should use one’s own issues to call out others.

Police Ebola: For decades, several poor communities are injected with a frustration virus. Although few individuals might have been exposed and already processed, navigation such as a simple drive, or walk to one’s favourite candy store can be a reason to be quarantined. Even when an individual has not been exposed or engaged in any toxicity, consistently restrictive masks are issued. Furthermore, sometimes an encounter in an unmarked quarantined space with law enforcement and any negative gesture out of frustration can dictate if one lives or dies simply refusing to accept a surgical mask.

One writer argued just do what you are told.  It is extremely important to comply with an officer’s order. However, for many young black men and other minorities in their reality, accepting a command often only reduces the amount of bullies from perhaps from ten to six, as a decision had already been made.

Even when authority has solid evidence, gaining compliance requires good tactics. For example, despite much needed treatment to halt the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, the recent government approach after the world has taken notice only created additional problems as reported.

Several predominantly black poor communities have been plagued with crime, cultural and socio-economic issues and in need of an antibiotic. According to Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post, only 50 percent graduation rate in 2013 compared to 86 percent of the state and at least 60 percent had at least one suspension in Michael Brown’s high school. If these symptoms were found in predominately white schools, a vaccine would have been developed and or an operation with new blood transfusions. This issue requires investments and interactions.

Most of these officers do not reside in the communities they serve, unable to relate and recognize a single black healthy cell. It seems only when an epidemic erupts doctors who sit in isolated gated communities tasked with decisions only took notice while the problem has been known for decades. These labs are only treating symptoms, and not the root cause of the problems.

The lack of medicine or limited interjected ones often creates more delusions and long-term side effects. Although traces of cells need to be isolated and incapacitated, an entire community should not be treated as if all are infected.

It is problematic being viewed as the only affected people while knowing that more affluent towns have also been exposed but overlooked. These communities need an economic medication to prevent outbreaks, but priority seems to be invested equipment in anticipation of divide and turmoil.

The broken window theory that is based on zero tolerance and swift action solutions seems to have switched to everyone in the community and not the criminal elements. Not all medicine work for the Ebola virus and these community labs must seek new medicines.

Traces: Modern policing is not a new concept in our society. It has been around since the early 1800s, created in Great Britain. As a few scholars noted that it was used to keep slaves in check from running away from their masters. Maybe that mindset still exists in some departments today.

George Kelling and Mark More analyzed the US evolution for a Department of Justice studies. The Political Era (1840s – 1930s). This was period where close ties between the police and politicians, and emphasis was on making politician happy. The Reform Era (1930s – 1970s) focused on arrest, and professional fighting crimes. Community Policing Era (1970 to present). This is where partnerships with the community and police agencies work together.

According to several studies, community policing has been successful when it is implemented correctly. However, in some areas this theory seems only to be on paper. Furthermore, it appears most of today’s operations are stuck in the two eras, like an apartheid system where one is free to move, but mentally trapped.

In a recent CNN panel, a Florida police chief stated that not all officers believe in community policing. This is not to say these officers do not uphold the law and should not be part of the institution. However, forcing officers inside communities to work with different racial and socio-economic background could be a call for more hands-up-don’t-shoot cases, as one easily defaulted back to training like muscle memory as to where he carries his or her weapon.

Perception vs. Reality: It is not an easy task being a police officer. Law enforcement wears multiple hats; they need as much support as we can afford them. Sometimes it seems they have more issues than policies to meet society’s demands in fighting crimes while balancing human rights. Even in cases where an officer is being outgunned, the expectation society places on the officer often, puts law enforcement in a tight spot, balancing perceptions and reality.

Many of today’s police officers are extremely educated and become a social worker dealing with a domestic violence, child abuse issue, plotting a crime scene on computer models, to predicting trouble spots, while some cannot diffuse an incident without pulling a weapon.

Bureaucratization can create a set of norms that often lead to social problems. A system can be well organized, but hard to adjust to current and changing reality. How can several decades of them vs. us change in a few hours?

Ferguson prosecutor, Robert McCulloch came under fire for how he handled previous criminal cases and perceived favoritism of law enforcement that led to mistrust in the community. He was elected several times and has a close ties to the police unit. Often when community policing fails, there are repeated called for tolerance, inclusion, resignation or be fired.

The department seems to have an operation stuck in the two previous political and reform eras. Many officers were making arrests, restricting media traffic during the protest were part of a few systematic issues.

However, not all white officers involved in killing of a black man are racist. Nevertheless, we cannot use disciplinary records as the only guide because behind closed-door people often grouped by their ideology. One can be anti-gay, blacks, white, Jews, women, immigrants, and still function on the job. Institutional racism is just as dangerous. Moreover, we cannot ignore few bad apples in disguise. For example, two officers tied to the Klux Klux Klan recently in Florida.

It seems our society have become immune to these shootings. What is more troubling if an individual confirmed as mentally disturbed is not able to comprehend the danger of approaching an officer with a deadly weapon, it can easily be justified. Society must ensure when it eliminates a virus it must be only when it threatens the life of an entire community and not because of its label.

During a CNN interview, a young man wrote two poems, one for the good police officers, and one for the bad ones. This is a sign of hope despite some bad virus, there are still good cells.
 
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