(Todd A. Smith)
We get it.
Police officers have an extremely dangerous gig.
Like many, I have family members, friends and fraternity brothers who work in law enforcement.
Therefore, I am in constant prayer that they do their job effectively and make it home to their families, every day.
But having friends and former colleagues who work or once worked for law enforcement, I know that not all shootings of unarmed Black men and women were because those officers feared for their lives, obviously.
Recently, officers in Torrance, Calif. created controversy when controversial text messages surfaced after the killing of a Black man.
The people sending some of the text messages were allegedly involved in the killing of Christopher DeAndre Mitchell in 2018.
James Queally of the Los Angeles Times reported, “Eight months ago, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by at least a dozen Torrance police officers, a scandal that sparked an investigation by the California attorney general’s office.
“Criminal cases in which the officers were involved continue to be dismissed, and at least one man has been released from prison. Lawsuits filed against officers involved have already cost Torrance more than $10 million. Still, most of the officers implicated remain employed by the city.”
Regarding the controversial text messages, one officer wrote, “Was going to tell you all those nigger family members are all pissed off in front of the station,” pertaining to a protest held outside of police headquarters in Torrance, Calif.
One person asked, “Gun cleaning Party at my house when they release my name?”
Another person texted, “Yes, absolutely let’s all just post in your yard with lawn chairs in a [firing] squad.”
The district attorney’s office for Los Angeles County submitted an exhibit, which contained 390 “anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic or transphobic remarks” that the officers allegedly made from 2018 to 2020.
The information also states that the officers allegedly made statements about Mitchell’s family members and friends.
Furthermore, the officers allegedly placed racist cartoons about Black and Hispanic residents in their messages, including statements about lynching Black suspects as well as killing Black children.
Unfortunately, because of my experiences and the experiences of my former colleague who once worked in law enforcement, I am not surprised at all.
However, I am surprised that so many people believe some of the sob stories that some cops probably fabricate to justify killing innocent and unarmed Black people.
And until recently, it seemed that the cops almost always got away with that charade when the dead person had a skin tone that resembled mine.
I vividly remember a former colleague telling me of how White police officers would get back to the office or precinct and boast, to an extent, of how they had just shot a Black person.
On July 25, I appeared on “Isiah Factor Uncensored” on Fox 26 Houston (KRIV) and Fox Soul to discuss a Lexington, Miss. police chief who was recorded by a Black officer bragging about killing people on the job and using racial slurs about Black people.
Thankfully, the Black police officer reported the police chief making those controversial remarks so that those who believe that police officers are always in the right can see otherwise.
Those type of stories are what really troubles many in Black America when they hear things like Blue Lives Matter because to some officers their lives are the only ones that matter.
And many, seemingly, could care less about how the family members and loved ones of dead Black people feel when their friends and family members are snuffed out because of the prejudice of someone who took an oath to protect and serve all citizens in their jurisdiction, not just those who look like them skin tone-wise.
Honestly, police officers play a very needed role in society when they perform their jobs correctly and for the right reasons.
But human beings are not the Supreme Being, meaning humans carry their flaws, weaknesses and sins with them wherever they go.
If a person is a violent person before becoming a police officer, they will still be violent when they put that badge on.
If a person is a racist or a bigot before becoming a police officer, they will still be racist or bigoted when they put the badge on.
If a person is homophobic or transphobic before they put the badge on, they will still be homophobic or transphobic when they put the badge on.
If a cop is a sexist, the aforementioned rules will still apply to them when they put the badge on.
The badge does not make a police officer a superhero that is above criticism.
The badge gives them power.
And when a person gains power, we see more about their flaws than a lack of power will expose.
After the exposure of the controversial texts, Black Lives Matter activist Sheila Bates said if the Torrance, Calif, police department “cannot hold these officers accountable…They cannot keep the public safe. They cannot keep their Black residents safe.”
While many Black people have had turbulent encounters with law enforcement, the answer to the problem is to get rid of the bad cops and get more Black cops in the building so that there can be systemic change in the way the Black community is policed versus how our White counterparts are policed.
And those Black officers must be committed to seeing their people treated equally by law enforcement, and not just become pawns for the system.
And until we can change the system where bad cops do not feel welcomed, we will have more instances of police killing unarmed Black people, claiming self-defense in public while bragging about it in private.