As reported on in Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, police shooting is the talk of New York. In New York, “A plainclothes policeman who drew his gun while chasing someone he had found rummaging through his car was shot and killed by a fellow officer who was driving by and saw the pursuit, the police commissioner said,” as Jennifer Peltz wrote for the Associated Press. The plainclothes officer was black, the shooter white.
Meanwhile, Bonnie Sweeten of suburban Philadelphia faked a kidnapping of herself and her 9-year-old daughter, police said, then fled to Disney World in the midst of serious financial troubles. She said the kidnappers were black men.
Amid the justifiable outrage, some see further evidence of the negative image of black men at work.
One is Eric Adams, a 22-year veteran of the New York Police Department and the co-founder of 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care. He appeared on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More” on Monday.
“Here’s the point here that I think we’re missing,” he said in the discussion of the New York “friendly fire” shooting.
“The incidents like this, clock time are seconds. Clock time — when you look at the clock on the wall it happens in seconds. But mind time is a lifetime. The mind processes information not in seconds but nanoseconds or even probably smaller denominations. So when I approach someone, I’m bringing with me everything in my life, everything that I’ve been taught, all of my personal experiences. We’re not training to that, we’re training to the clock seconds and not the mind time, which is a vast number of time. And so it’s more than just the shootings that is impacting race, it is also — you sit in your radio car every day, 125th Street, which is a predominantly black area —
“All day long you’re hearing those who committed crimes, male black, male black, male Hispanic, male black, male black. By the time you get out of that car to take action on that three-second incident you have already spent the entire year, the entire day, the entire lifetime of what your opinion is of a criminal, male black. Now you see him with a gun. That gun pushes you into all that lifetime experience that you’ve taken action, not on that three seconds but your lifetime experience, and we’re not training to that.
“. . . police did not create the racial stereotypes that exist in society, but we have to police in it.”
Adams called for bringing in scholars, criminologists, sociologists and psychologists to say, “here’s the parameters that we have to police in, here’s what our police officers are taking in their thoughts.” How do we train police in that environment? And he didn’t say it, but of course we should ask what role the media play in creating that lifetime of black-male images.
In the New York Daily News, columnist Errol Louis added this:
“An onslaught of gangsta rap and other cultural garbage bolsters the bias. We pay a heavy price by letting racist imagery, words and accusations slosh around society unchecked and unchallenged. In the tense, split-second needed to separate a cop from a crook on a dark street, those myths may have cost a good man his life.”