Police Agencies Must Do Some Self-Examination, House-Cleaning
Prosecutors in Minnesota last week made the right move by broadening the reach of their efforts in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Now the three officers who stood by and watched Derek Chauvin press his knee into Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing have been charged with aiding and abetting a murder — and Chauvin’s charge has been upgraded to second-degree murder.
In discussing the new charges, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called the protests after Floyd’s death “dramatic and necessary,” and said Floyd “should be here and he is not. His life had value and we will seek justice.”
Good. Culpability for Floyd’s death should not end at Chauvin.
But authorities across the country must not stop there.
The work is just beginning. Law enforcement agencies at all levels — filled with good men and women who take seriously their job to serve and protect — must do some self-examination and house-cleaning.
Is there de-escalation and sensitivity training on which they need to catch up? Is there a culture of turning a blind eye toward “minor” insensitivies that could encourage behavior that leads to a tragedy?
Pope Francis had it exactly right when he said this week “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
One might add, “or claim to uphold the law.”