Sandra Bland

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I sympathize with the Attorney General’s comments on the Sandra Bland case – to an extent. But I also feel that it is time to talk about the anti-societal attitude of all participants in confrontations where law and order is being enforced.

I agree totally with Loretta Lynch when she says the ultimate solution to engendering a situation where a community feels comfortable with the way it is being policed is for there to be input from the community on that policing approach. Hence, my advocacy for citizen design of policing.

Will that require a change in policing approach? Almost certainly. Will it focus on new training with de-escalation a priority? That depends on each community. For there can be no one-size-fits-all solution.

In my hometown of Carrboro, where we are already holding community forums between police, elected officials and citizens, in due course, I will certainly be wanting to discuss de-escalation rules of conduct. But, when I do so, I will emphasize that it is incumbent on all participants to de-escalate.

Just as it is unacceptable to have police act in a manner which makes the community feel uncomfortable, it is unacceptable for individual citizens to act in a way which makes police feel threatened.

At the end of the day, it is for the community to regulate the behavior of its police force, not individual citizens at the moment of law enforcement, whatever the citizen may think.

At that point, it is totally unfair to demand that a police officer make a distinction between someone losing their rag because they don’t like being stopped, and someone who may be about to pull a gun.

There is no doubt that certain police are abusing their authority. That must be controlled. By the community. In the meantime, police, for better or worse, act on behalf of the community.

It is for the community to set rules for, to monitor and to regulate the police. If you have a complaint about police behavior, under citizen design, you will be able to go to a forum, complain, and get the rules changed, if that is what is required.

But even under citizen design, once you have made a police officer aware you believe he is abusing his authority, your recourse will lie with citizen design – after the confrontation. Not during it. At that moment, whether you like it or not, the police officer, acting on behalf of the community, is the arbiter of the situation, not you.

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