If you have read any news publications lately, you may have heard the claims that United States law enforcement shows bias against Blacks. The American public has been vocal, sharing videos and live streams, staging protest marches and demonstrations, and posting to social media. But, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, James Comey, does not agree that an epidemic exists, although he calls for better statistics and communication.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 17, 2016
In a Wall Street Journal report, the director is stated to have given a passionate speech at a conference on Sunday for the International Association of Chiefs in San Diego that defended police officers on Sunday. Comey asserted that most police officers face a “uniquely difficult time in American law enforcement” but are good people. The director offered words that negated recent narrative that “biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates.”
“There are bad cops. There are departments with troubled cultures. Unfortunately, people are flawed but for law enforcement, the spotlight is brighter, and the standards are higher. And that’s the way it should be. In the absence of information, we have anecdotes, we have videos, we have good people believing something terrible is happening in this country. In a nation of almost one million sworn law enforcement officers, and tens of millions of police encounters every year, a small group of videos serves as proof an epidemic.”
— FBI (@FBI) October 15, 2016
According to CNN, Comey has tried for over a year to get police to report statistics on officer-involved shootings to help the nation see whether or not a true epidemic exists. Statistics could distinguish if the deaths of black men by officers is at a critical level or if the rise in videos shared via social media are the problem. Without numbers to substantiate either side, he argued that “a small group of videos serve as an epidemic.”
“Each video becomes further proof of an epidemic nationwide of police brutality. Our officers see the videos. They desperately do not want to be in one. They think about that all the time. This country will be deeply, deeply sorry, if great young talent, kids who want to help other people, chose some other way to serve. However good their hearts [they have] no idea of whether the number of black people. Being shot by police is up, down or sideways. They have no idea of these things because we [in federal government] have no idea of these things.”
Comey’s speech sheds light on methods to close the gap between officers and the American public, especially the minority and Black community. Calling for officers to communicate more with those they are required to serve could change the rhetoric that police are violent and racist. He added that the intentions of good officers needed to be discussed to overshadow the misconduct of bad ones and that an “informed debate about policing based on reliable information” should be held, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“If we do those things and if we do them well, we will save lives,” he said.
Putting action behind his words, Director Comey’s FBI and the U.S. Justice Department have made a firm commitment to develop a national database in 2017 that will detail police shootings and uses of force by federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals.
[Featured Image via Richard Girard|Flickr]