Over at nydailynews.com, Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King continues to search for “solutions for police brutality in America.” In part 18 of his 25-part series (I know, right?), Mr. King vilifies William J. Lewinsky.
Are you familiar with the work of William J. Lewinski? Unless you are a police officer, that name probably doesn’t ring a bell. It didn’t for me, either, until I learned that in many ways he is father, architect and chief defender of the modern police brutality epidemic. As founder and director of the Force Science Institute, he has trained tens of thousands of police officers to shoot first and ask questions later.
Hang on. As loathsome as it is, today’s “police brutality” pales in comparison to the violence unleashed by Sheriff “Bull” Connor or the first Chicago Mayor Daley. Or other police departments of their time. Would that be “classical period police brutality” or does Mr. King wish us to go back further in time to pinpoint the beginning of this “modern police brutality epidemic” era?
Anyway, Mr. King is hardly the first person to question Mr. Lewinski’s scientific rigor, or point out that Mr. Lewinski reps the boys in blue. Mr. King’s anti-police polemic relies on the New York Times’ “expose” Training Officers to Shoot First, and He Will Answer Questions Later. But unlike the Gray Lady’s hit piece, Mr. King offers a solution to the brutality allegedly “fathered” by Mr. Lewinski.
All over the world, people without firearms are arrested without unnecessary violence. Police in some nations haven’t fired their guns in years. Police in some nations haven’t fired their guns in years. It’s been over 10 years since police in Norway shot and killed someone. In 2013, Iceland police shot and killed someone for the very first time since the nation’s founding in 1944. The man was armed and firing his weapon. The nation still grieved over it.
In those countries, when unarmed men, women or children are confronted by police, first-resort firearm use not only violates policy and goes against training — but these officers have less lethal weapons on them. And they have been trained to use these weapons first, if de-escalation is truly not an option.
Even when knives or hammers or house tools are present on suspects in other countries, police are taught to take their time — and figure out how to avoid using lethal force.
I’m all about training police to de-escalate potentially violent situations. But comparing policing in Norway and Iceland to law enforcement in urban America is like comparing high school wrestling to an MMA match. Chicago gang bangers, for example, aren’t known for being “unarmed men, women or children.”
American police officers must move in this direction. The training they receive is violent and unethical. One step in the right direction would be to guarantee that every police officer in America has at least three other weapons on their person at all times — including some type of Taser, some type of spray and even a baton.
Well wouldn’t you know it, they do! We can only conclude that either Mr. King is obfuscating to promote his anti-police agenda or he’s a lazy-ass journalist who remains profoundly uniformed about American police training, equipment and procedures. Both?
It’s doubtful what happened to Tamir Rice would’ve happened in any other developed country. That is true for hundreds of unarmed African-Americans shot and killed by American police who chose lethal force as an option before considering a nonfatal alternative.
It must never be the case that if an officer shoots someone, it was only because they didn’t have a less deadly alternative on their person. Furthermore, reviews of body camera footage must show that other options were used, or at least seriously considered, before police came out with guns blazing.
America can do better. We see it being done better all over the world.
How can body camera footage — which I support — reveal whether or not an officer considered a non-lethal option before he or she “came out with guns blazing”? A term which highlights both Mr. King’s bias and his ignorance.
If Mr. King wants to find ways to help end the “modern epidemic of police brutality” he needs to sample some of that “violent and unethical” police training and do a dozen of so police ride-alongs in crime-infested neighborhoods. While he’s at it, Mr. King should do some force-on-force simulations.
As they say, before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes.