Police need de-escalation training

Improved training would help repair the trust between police officers and their communities.

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice: All three of these black individuals were killed by a police officer this year in ways that I and many other Americans find unjust.

Brown was shot multiple times by an officer. Garner repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe,” after an officer put him into an illegal chokehold. Rice was just a 12-year-old boy playing with a fake gun in a park when police officers abruptly approached him and shot him down.

American citizens have shown their frustration, burning police cars and marching in the streets. The country is angry at the injustice, and we want our voices heard.

According to Officer Frank Roberston of the New Orleans Police Department, officers are trained first to assess whether a situation can be de-escalated. However, if the lives of officers or other citizens are threatened, police are trained — and legally able — to use lethal force.

While I understand this statement, I don’t see how the officers in the three incidents mentioned above would seriously feel that their lives were threatened.

Did the officers feel more threatened because their victims were black?

I think that the problem lies with how police are trained. Their training should focus on how to protect lives, but it should also focus heavily on how to de-escalate a situation.

More and more people are starting to see the police as pests, enemies and cruel people. We urgently need to repair the trust between police officers and the communities they are supposed to protect.