Hundreds of people across the country were shot and killed by police this year. Now, there’s a debate going on nationwide regarding the use of deadly force by police. Another issue that is fueling millions of people is the apparent lack of police accountability. If a regular citizen would be arrested and charged for killing someone, then so should a police officer, right?
Here are five ways America should hold police accountable for shootings and misconduct:
1. Body cameras
Using body cameras could potentially decrease the amount of police brutality and misconduct. President Obama has asked Congress to fund the purchase of 50,000 body cameras to document shootings such as the incident that killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last year. This can also rebuild trust between minorities and police officers nationwide. This is by no means, a cheap solution and the amount of funding requested was $263 million.
Police officers who are involved in fatal shootings of unarmed individuals should be arrested. Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was charged with the killing of Samuel DuBose after a traffic stop. The deadly incident happened in July when the officer pulled DuBose over for a missing front license plate. The seemingly calm conversation with DuBose and Tensing quickly took a turn when the officer attempted to open the car door, and DuBose tried to keep it closed. In an immediate reaction, Tensing fired a shot, killing DuBose. Tensing could be sentenced to life if convicted.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked to investigate and prosecute all police killings, Cuomo said that he would sign an executive order. “We will be the first state in the country to acknowledge the problem and say we’re going to create an independent prosecutor who does not have that kind of connection with the organized police departments,” Cuomo said. This is a step in the right direction even though New York was not the first state to launch independent teams. In fact, in April 2014, Wisconsin passed a law that requires mandatory outside reviews of police killings.
Even though a majority of deaths by police have been due to shootings, there are those who were killed by chokeholds. Eric Garner of Staten Island, N.Y., was killed last year after being placed in a chokehold by police. The incident was caught on video, and Garner was heard saying, “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he went unconscious. Garner was stopped on the sidewalk by police due to suspicions that he was selling cigarettes illegally.
Shooting, beating or choking should not happen over a simple violation, especially if a suspect is unarmed. A minor traffic violation or mere suspicion should not be enough for an officer to unleash deadly force or force that causes serious injury.
Jae Monique is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.