The recent Jordan Miles incident has brought back to a head, not only in Pittsburgh, but urban communities throughout the country, the question of why isn’t there something in place to police the police.
Living in the Black community, we all know how important the police are to the protection of our community and what it would be like without them to at least keep some control over the young fools roaming our streets with guns killing each other. But as sad as this sounds it’s better they kill each other than us. Without the police we would be held hostage in our own homes and the NRA would be selling a lot more guns to those of us who would have to have guns to protect our homes. So in no way are we saying get rid of the police in our community. What we are saying is how can we keep good police and punish the bad ones.
In the Jordan Miles case three plainclothes officers saw a suspicious person and approached him. They said they identified themselves as officers and he ran with what they thought was a weapon. When they caught him he viciously fought them.
Miles said that they did not identify themselves, and living in one of the worst communities of the city he wasn’t waiting around to find out who they were, so he ran, and when they caught him he fought for his life.
It really doesn’t matter which side you believe, the fact is, to our knowledge there has been no private or public hearing by the police department, the city or anyone else to try to find out the truth. Instead the mayor suspended the officers with pay and instead of a local investigation, the Feds stepped in and recently released a statement saying that they had not found any evidence that the officers violated Miles rights. So now the ball falls into the locals hands, where it should have been all along. District Attorney Steven Zappala is still in the process of deciding if he’s going to pursue it or not. The Feds should only step in if the locals mishandle justice as they used to in the segregated South.
There has to be some kind of system set up to protect good police officers and law abiding citizens while punishing the bad police officers and the thugs on the streets. Many thought the Citizens Police Review Board was going to do just that after the Johnny Gammage killing, but they are a joke. They have no power.
So what can be done?
The city council, the mayor’s office, the FOP, the District Attorney’s office and citizens need to create some kind of review panel made up of representatives from these groups that has the power to punish or at least make strong recommendations as to what should happen to officers who are accused of wrong doing, a board or panel that can be fair to both sides. Because just as it’s wrong for a Jordan Miles to be beaten by three officers who should have had the training to be able to subdue him without the beating he took, it is also unfair for officers who are trying to do their jobs keeping our streets free of the thugs and gangsters to be suspended with or without pay without a hearing for more than a year.
The Citizens Police Review Board was a good idea but something has to be changed to either give them teeth or create another board or panel that does. And if some laws have to be changed or created in the process, so be it. Get the laws changed so that the police’s hands are not tied behind their backs while at the same time protecting our innocent citizens.