We all pay when the police kill unarmed people Jeffries

Judson L. Jeffries is Professor of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University.

Unfortunately, and tragically, young Donovan Lewis is the city’s latest unarmed victim of an avoidable and senseless police shooting, but it likely won’t be the last.

More:Donovan Lewis’ parents offer emotional words before protesters march downtown

How many lives will be lost before the American people say, “okay, enough is enough.”

Isn’t it now obvious that when an unarmed non-threat person is killed at the hands of the police, we all lose, including the police?

More:Donovan Lewis shooting: What we know about fatal police shootings

In recent years, the American people’s trust in the police seems to have plummeted.

Historically, Black and Brown feelings toward the police ranged mostly from resentment to contempt. What is relatively new, however, is the seemingly significant number of whites (that is, if the number of white protesters we see on the nightly news is any indication) harboring an unprecedented level of dislike for the police.

September 4, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA A photo of Donovan Lewis is seen as protesters chant as they walk through downtown Columbus during a Donovan Lewis protest outside Ohio State. Mandatory credit: Joseph Scheller-The Columbus Dispatch

How in the world can policing be done effectively in communities where large sectors of the population distrust the police?

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People who do not trust the police are not likely to call the police in a time of need or cooperate with the police when asked. We all lose under these circumstances.

When will the American people wake up and realize that we, for years, have been footing the bill for police misconduct? These huge settlements that the surviving families of the victims receive as well as the money from these successful civil lawsuits are our tax dollars at work.

More:‘This is not good law enforcement,’ says lawyer for protesters who receive $5.75 million settlement

And get this: police killings are so common that many medium-sized and small towns with police departments have taken to buying insurance policies that pay money to people who have been abused by the police.

In contrast, large cities are self-insured, which means they have a certain amount of money that will be used for this purpose. Paul Butler, author of the 2017 book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” points out that such a development raises an issue that academics refer to as moral hazard, since police officers may be less likely to encourage their officers to exercise restraint when they have to do with motorists and pedestrians, to pay for brutality and shooting deaths has already been entered in the budget.

More:Columbus agrees to pay family of Andre Hill $10 million, largest settlement in city history

Over the years, unjustified police killings of citizens have (reasonably) caused mass riots and/or protests that, in some cases, negatively affected a city’s economic growth. We all lose when that happens, just ask the residents of Los Angeles and the political pundits there if the infrastructure of this city has fully recovered from the rebellion that unfolded thirty years ago.

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I hope police departments try to use the best and brightest their city has to offer. But how does an agency expect to recruit the best youngsters in the area when their department is constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Judson L. Jeffries

Judson L. Jeffries

What bright and up-and-coming young person who envisions law enforcement as a potential vehicle to positively impact people’s lives wants to join a department around which controversy constantly swirls?

More to the point, what intelligent person of color would want to join an agency with this kind of tarnished public image? When the applicant pool consists of those for whom the police department is their only career option, we all lose.

When 20-year-old Donovan Lewis was killed, the loss was and is greater in some areas than others, but make no mistake, we all lost.

Judson L. Jeffries is Professor of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University.

This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch: Judson L. Jeffries: What is the impact of police shootings?

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