Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airpla Essay Example For Students

Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airpla Essay nes?Pagan Kennedy AUG. 11, 2017382PhotoCreditAngie Wang Its 2:30 in the morning and my phone rings. My daughter says, Daddy, you need to come to the hospital, Michael Bell told me, of the moment in 2004 when he learned that his son had been shot by a police officer in their hometown, Kenosha, Wis. Twenty-one-year-old Michael Bell Jr. died that night from a bullet wound to the head. In the nightmarish hours that followed, his father expected independent investigators to arrive on the scene and find out what had gone wrong. A former Air Force pilot, he knew that when an accident happened in the military, a forensic team performed an exhaustive review. Above all, he wanted to make sure that if a mistake had contributed to his sons death, it would be identified and fixed, so that nothing like it would happen again. This investigative method is standard in aviation. When a plane crashes, experts pick through the wreckage to determine the cause and make recommendations to prevent the next accident. The process is so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. But no comparable system exists in policing and that may help explain why you are far more likely to die at the hands of a cop than to perish in an plane crash. Police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000every year. Of course, no independent team arrived to perform a forensic analysis of the younger Mr. Bells death. Instead, the Kenosha police department spent two days investigating its own officers before ruling that the shooting was justified. The police officers claimed that Michael had failed to make a complete stop (and tests later showed Michael had been drinking), so they followed him to his house and parked behind him. According to the police, the young man had lunged at them and tried to pull a gun out of an officers holster. PhotoThe family of Michael Bell (in picture), a young man who died in policecustody, recount the story of how their son died at a Citizens Tribunal inMilwaukee, Wisconsin. CreditNarayan Mahon for The New York Times Mr. Bell hired his own investigators. They contend that it all began with faulty equipment: Officer Erich Strausbaughs holster caught on a cable dangling from one of the cars side-view mirrors, so that when he tackled Michael, he felt a powerful tug on his belt. Assuming that the young man had grabbed for his weapon, he called out to his partners, Hes got my gun. Michaels mother and sister, who were watching nearby, yelled that Michael did not have the gun. But it was too late. Continue reading the main story My blond-haired boy was killed, Mr. Bell said, and then blamed. He continued, If that was how it was for my family, then I knew that the families of African-American, Hispanic or Asian boys didnt stand a chance. That was one of reasons I started raising a ruckus. Police violence is tangled up with racism and systemic injustice. We desperately need to do more to address that, foremost by shoring up the criminal-justice system so that it holds police officers accountable when they kill. But its also true that deadly mistakes are going to happen when police officers engage in millions of potentially dangerous procedures a year. What aviation teaches us is that it should be possible to accident proof police work, if only we are willing to admit when mistakes are made. Mr. Bell, in fact, does not blame Officer Strausbaugh, who committed suicide several years later. The officer made an honest mistake, he said; the problem is that the police department covered it up. In 2010, the family received some vindication when the City of Kenosha agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. Afterward, Mr. Bell paid to erect billboards asking: When police kill, should they judge themselves? In 2014, Wisconsin passed a law requiring independent investigations of police actions that result in a civilian death. Mr. Bell is still pushing for reform, touring Wisconsin with graphs and charts think of him as the Al Gore of police shootings. In meetings in legislative offices, he explains that a proven method to improve safety already exists in the fields of medicine, nuclear power and aviation. Engineers call it an external-learning system. After an airplane plummets into a cornfield or a swamp, the National Transportation Safety Board sends a go team to interview survivors and pick through the debris for evidence of mechanical failures. Those investigations have led to revelations about how hidden problems can spin into disaster. For instance, in 1986, a single-engine airplane plowed into a jet in the air above Los Angeles County. That accident killed 82 people, and led to new rules that made flying safer: Small aircraft flying close to major airports are now required to use transponders that indicate their position to controllers, and airliners are outfitted with traffic collision-avoidance systems. Battle Of Ap Bac Essay Of course, there are considerable hurdles. Millions of drivers would have to download and learn to use the app. And police departments are likely to resist any changes to the traffic stop, which gives them broad authority to search cars for drugs and guns. Still, even if the app fizzles, it represents an intriguing use of 21st-century technology to solve longstanding problems in policing. Their project inspired me to dig into the history of the traffic stop. How was it developed and when? It goes back more than 90 years to the Jazz Age, when bootleggers defied Prohibition laws by piling cases of whiskey into cars and speeding off to speakeasies. In response, the Supreme Court ruled in 1925 in favor of the automobile exception that allowed the police to search cars without a warrant. Today, the legal patchwork of exceptions around the car means that with minimal cause for instance, you forgot to use your turn signal a police officer can ask for your identification, eyeball your stuff and make a judgment call about your behavior. If he decides that youre uncooperative, he can perform a deeper search. In other words, when it comes to traffic stops, the law gives broad powers to conduct warrantless searches. Is it any wonder that the procedure has become a favorite tool of law enforcement looking to seize guns and drugs before they hit the streets? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 26 million Americans were pulled over by police officers in 2011 alone thats over 10 percent of the population aged 16 and older. Of course, because of racial bias, a disproportionate number of those people are minorities. In fact, you could argue that the way the traffic stop is designed is inherently racist, since it encourages stop-and-frisk methods that unfairly single out African- American drivers. How can we fix this system that puts civilians and the police officers who stop them at risk? The obvious solution is to take the officers and their guns out of the picture whenever possible. New technologies allow us to do just that. In some cities, when you roll through a stoplight, a camera catches you in the act, and a few weeks later you receive a ticket in the mail. Data suggests that this automatic system is far cheaper than human ticketing and reduces pedestrian deaths. And a camera cant kill people. Of course, we do need state troopers to pull reckless drivers from the highway, just as we need to police drug and gun smuggling. But the highways arent the only place to do that. Police officers should not be questioning people about minor infractions like a broken taillight, especially when we know that this procedure can end in death. Even when no one is hurt, the confrontation causes a toxic distrust of the police and exacts a horrible mental toll on minorities. Before he was killed by a police officers bullets, Philando Castile had been stopped at least 49times by officers. The stress of driving while black has poisoned the roadways for millions of Americans. One of the most frustrating aspects of this problem is that we already have models for fixing it, whether it is a version of the National Transportation Safety Board, as Mr. Bell seeks, or an empowered citizen review board with strong investigative powers, which Ms. Jameson is calling for. Michael Scott, a former police chief who is now a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University, is a fan of aviation safety-proofing and told me that we need a parallel system for the police. But, he said, law-enforcement agencies have a long way to go because they lack the most basic tools for learning from their mistakes. We dont even know exactly how many officer-involved shootings happen every year, he said, because we still do not have a single national reporting system that chronicles and documents every police-involved shooting in this country.Of course, its important to have a criminal and an administrativeinvestigation of any death that involves a police officer, he added. Butits not enough to determine who is to blame; we also need to ask, Why didthis happen? Until we can answer that question, innocent people will continue dying at the hands of the police. Pagan Kennedy is the author of Inventology: How We Dream Up Things ThatChange the World and a contributing opinion writer. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter(@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

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