By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer
Police violence in America is one of the most prominent social discussions throughout the nation, dominating the media over the past few years.
Consistently, stories of police violence in America reach the public and have been met with increasing outrage: protests, riots, and in some cases, violent retaliation.
The national conversation about police violence and excessive force has been driven forward by recent shootings committed by the police against citizens, specifically the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Keith Lamont Scott, to name just a few.
This injustice has given way to groups and organizations forming protests and public demonstrations to speak out against the excessive use of force by police officers, the most prominent being the Black Lives Matter movement.
Each demonstration, each protest, and each individual member calls for dramatic and fundamental change to the operation of the national police force. They have proposed a number of changes, with the implementation of sensitivity training being at the forefront.
This, I believe, is something that absolutely needs to be seriously evaluated and considered.
Let me be perfectly clear: I believe wholeheartedly that there is an injustice of incredible scale present in this country. Minority communities are often disproportionately targeted as suspected criminals and suffer intense hardship as a result. However, I also consider the police to be an important piece of society.
Police have some of the most difficult and important responsibilities in our world. They maintain the structure for living that our government creates. They work day and night to protect and serve their fellow citizens. For that, I believe they deserve the utmost respect and admiration.
That being said, however, the processes by which the police deliver justice must be reevaluated.
The police face some of the most intense situations many of us could only imagine on a daily basis. Putting a badge on in the morning (or at night) could mean twelve hours of busting kids for smoking pot or it could mean looking down the barrel of a gun in a robbery.
These are just some of the possible situations a cop might find him or herself in and it is for that reason that they must be trained extensively.
While their training consists of hundreds of hours of skills training, driving, tracking, firearm training, and the many other skills cops need to have, there must be time set aside to work with police on the objective execution of their duties.
What I mean by that is this: the police force needs to be trained to do its job, and its job is to enforce the law. I believe sensitivity training would serve to make sure that when a cop is enforcing the law, they do so bearing in mind the rights that belong to citizens and the inherent value each citizen holds.
The United States is a nation that firmly believes a person is innocent until proven guilty and they are to be treated as such. A person must be evaluated as a threat if, and only if, that person becomes a threat and not a moment before.
The deaths of many of the citizens whose stories appeared on the news these past few years were avoidable.
I believe that those kinds of fatalities, those that occur by the hands of a police officer, are preventable so long as the police are trained sufficiently, and the citizenry remain cooperative.
The culture between the police and the communities they protect are damaged.
Once the police receive the training they desperately need, it will be up to the people to complete the process of mending communities and the police back together.