Letter: Police accountability

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  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 18, 2019 9:49 a.m.

    "If I were black, I guess I could have claimed I was a victim of DWB. But nobody cares about mistaken identity when everyone involved is white. And with no harm done, I went about my day and life."

    This is not a case of if it happens to everyone once in a while. We get that to be true. But what has happened in the past is the rate it happens based on race. At one point a couple of years ago in Raleigh NC the ration was 6 to 1. Raleigh does not have 6 times more blacks than whites. There was absolutely profiling going on, because in the end, there were not 6 to 1 arrests either. It was just how the officers approached the person.

    Today in the latest review of police data that effect is nearly gone completely, mostly through training and police cameras where the event can be review, and either justified, or training done to address a miss read situation.

    In middle school in Durham NC, my oldest had a couple of friends that were "troublesome". One white, one black. My son always got the benefit of doubt, the white kid got "In School suspension half" of the time that the black kid did. They were all doing the same things. I hope were getting better at these things.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 14, 2019 1:09 p.m.

    To "abrady" the child was mistaken for an older teen. There was a study done and they found that black children had their age overestimated nearly all the time. The study showed that regardless of the race of the person making the estimate, they would consistently overestimate the age.

    That child does not look to be 10 years old. I would have guessed him to be around 16 years old.

    Please do some more research into this incident. The officer was told to be watching out for a black man, and from his car this child appeared to match the description given.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 14, 2019 10:58 a.m.

    @redshirt MIT

    In the history of the story no one ever alleged that the suspect they were searching for was a CHILD. Whether or not there was a radio call out that they were looking for a black male is not established and part of a changing story.

    The only thing the officer was acting on was race. If he wasn't close enough to know DJ was a child he couldn't have know he was male, leaving only race. This was an average height 10 year old who ran toward the officer when all reports (leaving the questioned race aside) were of adults running away from the police.

    I did not and would not call the officer a racist without knowing anything about him or motives that would be difficult to surmise.

    I am pointing out that there is a strong scientific basis to assume that his implicit biases played a significant role in his pulling a gun on an innocent CHILD. That is supported by hundreds of scientific studies.

    I think it is the responsibility of WXPD to equip their officers to avoid these mistakes.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    June 14, 2019 9:46 a.m.

    To "abrady" if you read more of the history, you find that the was a criminal who looked similar to this boy. The cop mistook the boy for the criminal that they were looking for at that moment. The boy acted properly and complied with the officer, and once the officer realized the mistake, he left. The boy was not harmed, handcuffed, or had anything bad happen to him.

    Now, I know it was a scary experience and people are calling racism, but lets look at it this way. The officer was told over the radio that there was a black male who is on the run from police. The officer sees a black male and does his job. Had the officer been looking for a white male they would have stopped a white male that matches the description.

    Finally consider the ramifications if we paralyze the police to the point that they don't pursue criminals for fear of being called racist or a bigot as they try to protect our communities.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 14, 2019 9:21 a.m.

    Flashback-The child is 4'7", only slightly taller than the average for a male 10 year old in america 4'6.5". The fact that most Americans judge black children to be older than their actual age is a racial bias that negatively impacts black children.

    There are hundreds of scientific studies proving that people in America have implicit biases against black people in America. When that impacts the interaction or equal treatment of children in particular by agent of government, we need to stand up and say it is not correct.

    To deny that this bias exists is in an of itself a racist act. If you deny the holocaust that is anti-semitic, if you deny implicit bias against black people in america that is racist. One is a historical fact and the other has proven to be true in hundreds of scientific studies and is only a replacement of the explicit racism practiced in this country an only recently discourage in public action and discourse.

    Step 1-admit there is a problem!

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    June 14, 2019 7:15 a.m.

    I agree, that the cop, if he did actually point the gun at this kid should get some days off.

    That said, the kid, at least from the pictures, is the oldest looking 10 year old I've ever seen. The kid looks like he's an older teenager. Either that or the photos definitely don't do him justice.

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    June 14, 2019 6:21 a.m.

    The only fiasco is the false outrage at an officer who did it right. He had an armed suspect in the area, the kid appeared at a distance to match the description. He asked the kid to stop, the kid started to run. He then drew and ordered the kid to stop. The kid complied.

    The officer did not shoot when the kid ran, this is great. Once he got close enough to realize it was a child he holstered his weapon, apologized and warned him to go inside because of the armed suspect still on the loose. He had his weapon at the low ready. To someone looking from any other angle but down the barrel this could have looked like "aimed at the kids head" when in fact it likely never pointed at any part of the kids body.

    Yes the story has changed, as no names explained, they either rush out a quick statement that later needs to be corrected, or they get blamed for stonewalling and lack of transparancy. The dept has tried to be transparent every step of the way and gets accused of lying or being inept because early details were vague or mistated.

    There was no fiaso, this is a good officer who did it right and nobody was harmed.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:37 p.m.

    A police officer was helping in a search when he pulled over, unholstered his weapon and started yelling at a child who was playing in his grandparents front yard, telling him to get on the ground.

    WXPD insists that this is not a violation of police policy.

    Am I missing something?

  • n8ive american Shelley, Idaho
    June 13, 2019 9:58 p.m.

    Also, to quell comments about getting guns pointed at you at 10 years old, already happened. By 3 of them to be exact.
    Still have very high respect for the police.

  • utah chick MSC, UT
    June 13, 2019 5:48 p.m.

    No Names

    **Neither do I want cops getting killed because someone thinks real life is a B Western where the good guy can draw his gun fast enough to escape someone who already has the drop on him.**

    You should have stopped with your 1st post.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    June 13, 2019 5:39 p.m.

    @well informed: "your parents would have been okay with the police pointing their gun (mistaken identity of course) at you when you were 10 years old?"

    Nobody expects any parent to "be ok" with police pointing a gun at an innocent, compliant 10 year old.

    The question is, was the gun actually pointed at the child or merely held at the low ready?

    If it was pointed at the child, did the officer have just cause to believe doing so was necessary and proper?

    Did the officer behave properly and now people are over-reacting? Did he make a minor mistake for which an apology should be sufficient? Is he some kind of horrible racist who ought to be criminally punished and shunned from decent society? I don't know. But I think we ought to find out before jumping to the worst possible conclusion.

    @Impartial7: "There may not be any wrongdoing,"

    This is a better approach than jumping to condemn.

    "But...Handled poorly."

    Ham handed for sure. But kind of a tough spot these days once the race card is pulled. Address the issue quickly and risk having something said turn out to be inaccurate; get accused of changing stories. Wait for solid data and be available, get accused of stonewalling.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    June 13, 2019 3:30 p.m.

    Let me be clear:

    I do not want police shooting when it is not absolutely justified. I don't want them pointing guns or even drawing guns too quickly. I want bad cops held to account.

    Neither do I want cops getting killed because someone thinks real life is a B Western where the good guy can draw his gun fast enough to escape someone who already has the drop on him. Drawing a firearm and holding it a low ready do not present a risk of harm to any innocent person. It does allow an officer to bring the firearm to bear much quicker if it is needed, saving innocent lives. And the sight of a drawn firearm ought to be enough to convince most any sane, rational adult that it is now time to comply with commands, waiting until later to argue about rights or proper use of police power. Children and handicapped, present challenges.

    NPR recently reported on a study showing that most adults--black and white--estimate a black child's age to be 3 to 6 years older than he actually is. This is a real problem for black children. But, it isn't racism on the part of cops. Maybe better training is needed on this topic.

    I don't want good cops destroyed for being human.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    June 13, 2019 3:19 p.m.

    @well informed: "... your parents ... been okay with the police pointing their gun... at you ...?"

    No one expects parents of an innocent 10 year old to "be ok" with a cop pointing a gun at their kid. The question is whether this was the kind of legitimate, innocent mistake for which an apology is sufficient, whether it was a breach in training, or whether it was some kind of gross, deliberate, racist attack on a black kid. Do you think the cop is a KKK bigot?

    I was briefing detained while serving an LDS mission in a predominant minority area. 2 over-dressed white boys. Several minority guys. Night. Looks like trouble. Not uncommon for police to take an interest. Not exactly racism, but the one or two different looking people in otherwise homogenous areas do draw attention.

    @Impartial7: "There may not be any wrongdoing"

    That is a nice step down in rhetoric since your multiple declarations of major crimes being committed.

    "But ... Handled poorly."

    No doubt, ham handed. Intense pressure to give answers now in our instant-gratification society. But heaven help if initial data isn't accurate.

    Danged if they talk too fast. Darned if they wait too long to provide answers.

  • ConservativeCommonTater Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 3:17 p.m.

    Let's look at reality friend of the mother.

    A cop gets a call and goes to investigate. When he gets there, he doesn't see the person described, but he does see a 10 year old with a gun. The 10 year old is behaving strangely.

    It's not unusual for gangs to recruit 10 year old kids. Those kids get their gang creds by becoming a gang banger.

    Now friend of mother, and mother, how is the cop to know what is going to happen when a gun is present? 10 year olds can kill people just as dead as adults.

    Next, why was the mother allowing the 10 year old play with a realistic gun outside? This isn't the 50's any longer when that sort of thing happened.

    If someone points a gun at you, are you going to know their intentions?

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 13, 2019 2:49 p.m.

    "Why is the Woods Cross police department taking this absurd "wrong place at the wrong time" line of defense? If that applies to anyone, it was the officer. All DJ was doing was playing in his yard. "

    That's the issue I think a lot of people have. Sure, cops are faced with split second decisions. But, the Wood Cross police chief brought a lot of suspicion on the incident. He went on TV, before he had the facts, to tell the public that the cop acted appropriately, there would be no investigation and he didn't need to talk to DJ's mom. It was exactly the wrong move, raised suspicion and looks like an arrogant Chief that didn't want to know the truth. Then, he told us the body cam was "not on". Then he went back on TV, after the pressure mounted, and explained that the DA's office was conducting a "review". It took the DA's office about an hour to answer (on TV) that they don't do reviews and they will investigate. Then the City hires an outside law firm, after they changed their story, again. There may not be any wrongdoing, But the Chief and the cities actions sure make it look like there is and that they are trying to hide from the public. Handled poorly.

  • well informed Bountiful, UT
    June 13, 2019 2:47 p.m.

    @ NoNamesAccepted - St. George, UT

    "But nobody cares about mistaken identity when everyone involved is white. And with no harm done, I went about my day and life."

    Interesting comment. Do you think your parents would have been okay with the police pointing their gun (mistaken identity of course) at you when you were 10 years old?

  • Semi-PRO Brigham City, UT
    June 13, 2019 2:15 p.m.

    We should be raising our standards for police officers, not lowering them.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    June 13, 2019 1:42 p.m.

    How about before we demand that something never happen again, we first determine what it is that happened?

    The office may have made a mistake. Maybe made a very serious mistake, or even violated training, policy, or law.

    Or, maybe, a child who is a bit larger than typical for his age was a close enough match to a wanted, armed suspect that the entire incident was legally and otherwise justified while being most unfortunate.

    I recall decades ago getting stopped by an officer while driving my car. Rather than the usual pleasantries, I received a curt, "Keep your hands on the wheel!" while the officer had his hand on his gun. He examined the front of my car. Relaxed, took his hand off his gun, and then offered a very quick explanation and apology, "Sorry. From the back your car matches a wanted vehicle. But from the front it is obviously not the car we want. Have a good day." And he was quickly gone.

    If I were black, I guess I could have claimed I was a victim of DWB. But nobody cares about mistaken identity when everyone involved is white. And with no harm done, I went about my day and life.