In a story on PBS Newshour on December 4, 2016, Sam Walker explained that ending police violence, including fatal shootings of people, must begin long before law suits ever reach the courts. The chances of getting an indictment and prosecution of a police officer for a fatal shooting has always been very low, he noted. As the PBS story noted, between 2005 and 201, an average of only about five officers a years were prosecuted for manslaughter or murder. The number jumped to 12 in 2015, mainly because of all the public attention following the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, and all of the nationwide protests that followed. That represented 12 out of an estimated 1,000 police fatal shootings that year. The way to end police violence, including all forms of misconduct, is to bring about changes in the estimated 63 million police citizen encounters every year. That an be done by adopting the new reforms of de-escalation, procedural justice, and better officer tactical decision-making so that officers choose tactics that are likely to reduce conflict and the need to use force. Walker cautioned, however, that implementing these reforms will not be easy. Policing is “not going to change overnight.”
Read the PBS story here.