Terry McLaughlin: Cop lives matter, too | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Cop lives matter, too

In the wake of the Ferguson and Baltimore shooting incidents and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, 2015 was a tumultuous year for police around the country.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men in this country, and about 90 percent of the perpetrators are also black. Yet we have seen protesters nationwide claiming that young black men are dying because cops are shooting them. Around 98 percent of black shooting deaths do not involve police. The protesters are pushing this false anti-cop narrative, which has been ratcheted up to levels not seen since the 1990s post-Rodney King era, and even the president is playing along with it.

Racism has too often become an all-purpose explanation for bad outcomes for African Americans, whether they are social, economic, or law-enforcement related. Jason Riley, an African-American writer for the Wall Street Journal, observes that “blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. The black arrest rate for most offenses — including robbery, aggravated assault, and property crimes — is typically two to three times their representation in the population. So long as blacks are committing such an outsized amount of crime, young black men will be viewed suspiciously and tensions between police and crime-ridden communities will persist. The U.S. criminal justice system, currently headed by a black attorney general who reports to a black president, is a reflection of this reality, not it’s cause.”

As Riley wrote, young black men in the ghetto live in danger of being shot by each other, not by cops. This is not a function of blacks being targeted by cops who are “over-policing” certain neighborhoods. Research has shown that the rate at which blacks are arrested is nearly identical to the rate at which crime victims identify their assailants as black. The police are in these communities because that is where the 911 calls originate — and the law-abiding citizens of these communities deserve the same protection as those in more affluent areas.

No one denies that black lives matter any less than those of any other color, gender, race or creed. But cops lives matter, too…

State and local laws and departmental policies in 2015 have been driven by a national narrative that attempts to paint law enforcement officers as racist and biased. In California, SB 227, (Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles), reflects a rising distrust of the grand jury process after it failed to yield charges against the officers who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Sen. Mitchell stated that “the secret nature of grand jury deliberations often seems unfair,” inferring that all the facts are not being properly examined. Her bill prohibits a grand jury in California from inquiring into an offense that involves a shooting or use of excessive force by a peace officer. The grand jury was established to determine whether a criminal act has been committed on the basis of evidence alone — not public opinion, rhetoric, media, or political pressure.

“The Grand Jury system is an appropriate and useful tool, particularly in cases where you’ve got evidence that’s somewhat unclear or there are conflicting accounts or witnesses who are reluctant to cooperate,” said Sean Hoffman, a spokesman for the California District Attorneys Association. Bowing under political pressure and driven by the national narrative, Gov. Brown signed this bill into law on Aug. 11, 2015.

We owe our local law enforcement officials tremendous thanks for accepting the responsibility of keeping us safe and removing from the community those that threaten our well-being. The passage of SB 227 in California has been an overreaction driven by a national agenda which purports that long-established institutions such as the Grand Jury can no longer be trusted to resolve issues fairly and justly. A great disservice has been done to the public with the lack of open debate as to the ramifications of changing a Grand Jury system that was designed to avoid bias and political influence. This change potentially introduces politics into the process and might produce exactly the opposite result.

No one denies that black lives matter any less than those of any other color, gender, race or creed. But cops lives matter, too — and the vast majority of them just want to serve the public well and go home to their families at the end of their shift.

Terry McLaughlin lives in Nevada City.

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