By Viewpoints Editorial Board
In a rare instance of accountability, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder after he kneeled on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds.
But there are countless cases of police violence across America that have remained stuck in some stage of litigation — there, the blue wall of silence remains standing.
Following Floyd’s death at the end of May 2020, in California alone: Andres Guardado, 18, a Hispanic male of Los Angeles, Terron Jammal Boone, 31, an African American male of Los Angeles, Anthony Angel Armenta, 21, a Hispanic male of San Bernardino, Mason James Lira, 26, a White male of Paso Robles, Michael ‘Blue’ Thomas, 62, an African American male of Los Angeles, Jarrid Hurst, 35, a White male of Industry, Erik Salgado, 23, a Hispanic male of Oakland and Sean Monterrossa, 22, a Hispanic male of Vallejo, all died in June while in police custody.
The way our current system of policing is set up, we do not usually see any repercussions in cases where police abuse their power. The need to end legal immunity within police departments is at its peak since Chauvin’s conviction.
Watching the Minneapolis police chief and the city’s training officers testify over the last few weeks against Chauvin’s actions during his trial revealed a crack in the blue wall of silence.
The common argument is there will always be some “bad apples.” No one would want a “bad apple” to perform heart surgery on their dying mother, so why continue to allow for qualified immunity that exonerates “bad apples” in our police system.
Police officers have stood in solidarity and secrecy for decades in an aim to keep the “blue wall” standing. This is unsettling.
The requirements to become a police officer are disconcerting.
According to the Discover Policing, a website sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, formal post-secondary education is not always a requirement, training only spans about five months and field training is “sometimes mandatory.”
And these individuals are entrusted with firearms by the government. Combined with qualified immunity and the joke that is the police training system, this literally amounts to a license to kill.
Chauvin’s murder conviction and even his pending sentence, while an instance of accountability, is not justice. Justice is not more law enforcement officers in the streets. It can only come with new, strict reforms to policing standards in every department in the nation.
Police officers are shielded from lawsuits, but, public perception is finally reaching what people of color have known all their lives. According to a Rasmussen Reports survey, 70% of American adults agree with the Chauvin trial’s guilty verdict.
Still, people are dying at the hands of a systematically racist police force.
There has never been an African American police chief in the City of San Bernardino’s 115-year-old department. Only one Mexican American has held that position.
According to information found in a public records request, courtesy of Hardy Brown of The Black Voice News, only 8% of San Bernardino’s sworn police officers live in the city.
“Whites make up 9.2% of the city population but occupy over 40% of the jobs and over 52% in the police department, with one Hispanic at the rank of captain and one African American holding the rank of lieutenant,” Brown said in his op-editorial.
We find the police system to be laughable and in a steady beeline toward chaos and anarchy. Victims are fearful of making the phone call to their so-called first line of defense and are terrified to be shot inside their own homes.
When a murder conviction within your own ranks does not seem to be a deterrent, it is apparent that the root of the problem stems a lot deeper.