Protect Fayetteville Police

By Abel Tomlinson

Guest Columnist

In light of the erupting civil unrest over police brutality, it would be prudent to proactively protect Fayetteville, including the police. We must do everything possible to not only protect all citizens of every color from abuse of power, but also policemen.

Regardless of the conflicting evidence in the Mike Brown homicide, the issues of excessive force and racial profiling are very real. Yet, the core issue is police brutality, which affects the poor in general, the homeless, the mentally ill, veterans, and everyone else indirectly. Focusing only on this one Ferguson case misses the point.The frustration over police abusing their power is widespread and goes much deeper than Mike Brown.

There are numerous videos on YouTube of police beating and killing people and pets when it is absolutely certain that the officers are not facing any physical threat whatsoever. This is a fact, not opinion. Please search “police brutality.”

Please search the cases of the homeless man James Boyd, homeless veteran Robert Olvera, 80-year-old veteran Bill Swan, 51-year-old grandmother Marlene Pinnock, and David Flores and his pregnant wife. Please investigate the case of the 2-year-old toddler nicknamed Baby Bou Bou, who was badly injured by a police grenade in his crib. There are far too many to list.

Just as not all protesters are looting rioters, not all police are violent killers. We must be careful not to generalize. There are many decent police officers that sincerely try to work toward peace, just like the many peaceful protesters.

Comparatively, the Fayetteville Police Department seems to be relatively more just. Unfortunately, they do feel compelled to enforce unjust drug laws that harm Fayetteville citizens more than the drugs ever could. This standard obedience to “law” alone, and not deeper Justice, drives them to violate the privacy of vehicles and homes in Fayetteville, destroying the lives, families and friendships of otherwise peaceful poor people, primarily.

However, in order to advance integrity and respect of the Fayetteville Police Department, two simple measures would help immensely. Police must be trained to injure or use nonlethal force when threatened, not kill as a first response. Additionally, all Fayetteville officers need to be outfitted with body cameras.

Other cities have paid for bodycams without taxpayer funding by using asset forfeiture funds, and they cost a tenth of the price of a standard pistol. Cities that have adopted police bodycams have seen a significant reduction in police brutality. A controlled study in Rialto, Calif., saw complaints against officers decline 88 percent and use of force by officers dropped by nearly 60 percent.

Rialto Police Chief William Farrar stated to the New York Times, “When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better…and if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”

These measures would help to prevent excessive force in Fayetteville. It would not only protect citizens, but also protect true peace officers with strong evidence while also hindering the few police that would otherwise abuse their authority. Police may not realize it, but when the public sees the many cases of brutality toward people of every color, it disgraces the entire profession.

Many poor people fear the police. It need not be that way. Police could be loved and respected by all. Sincere peace officers could even become friends with everyone.

Greater judicial reforms for police accountability may be most important, along with changing drug laws and the economic system, but these simple measures of nonlethal training and bodycams would go a long way toward protecting us all.

Please join me in calling or writing Mayor Lioneld Jordan, the Fayetteville City Council and the Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor to urge them to advance these simple measures.

Categories: Legacy Archive