Addressing the horror of police officers who kill innocent people will get nowhere until we find a better way to identify and eliminate psychopaths who apply for work in law enforcement.
Police officer is the dream job for a psychopath. They can harass, torture, and even murder people using their badge for cover, which is why so many psychopaths are attracted to law enforcement careers.
Police training clearly advises officers to use minimum force when making an arrest. Officers may first attempt to talk a suspect into cooperating, then move to non-lethal weapons, using their pistol only as a last resort.
Despite this, anyone who follows the news over time has seen a great many videos in which police officers use their pistol without exhausting other arrest tactics.
Police are more likely to use deadly force in poor neighborhoods. Poor people, including minorities, grow up fearing the police.
While I very much support the Black Lives Matter movement, the truth is that Black people have been only 28% of those killed by police since 2013 (despite being only 13% of the population, so yes, they have a legitimate claim, and in a typical confrontation with police, are 3 times more likely to be killed than white people). The vast majority of those killed by police are not Black, however.
There were only 27 days in 2019 when police didn’t kill someone, so this is a massive problem going well beyond the Black Lives Matter movement.
Despite repeated promises by authorities to do something about the problem, often following a publicized police killing, cops continue to shoot and kill about a thousand people each year in the USA.
As to highly-publicized police killings, we find that many seem to think the problem is solved by making choke holds illegal. I submit that this is only one of an infinite number of ways to kill people, and doesn’t do anything to eliminate the true problem.
Another “solution,” talking heads in mainstream media tell us, is to improve police training. While it is always a good idea to review training methods and procedures, police are all trained to use minimum force. The problem is that police officers who are psychopaths don’t care and continue to use unnecessary force, sometimes killing people.
Discovering the psychopaths among those applying to be police officers is not easy. Many psychopaths are quite intelligent and able to answer questions as though they have normal brains. There are already attempts to find such people, but they have obviously failed.
We need a study by the world’s top psychiatrists to put together a test that will identify psychopaths. No, it won’t be perfect, and some will always get through, but even if only a few can be identified, it can save lives. Psychopathic police are more dangerous than criminals.
Anything short of this and we will not solve the problem of police killings, but will continue to cover up atrocities and perpetuate the horror that so many experience in the land.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.