RICHARDS: A Common Sense Plan To Reduce The Number Of Deadly Encounters With Police

Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Maurice Richards Former Chief of Police, Martinsburg WV
Font Size:

The loss of any human life is tragic and a loss of life resulting from an encounter with the police is particularly troubling.  Recently in Columbus, Ohio, a white police officer used deadly force, shooting a teenage black female to save the life of a young black woman the teenager was about to stab with a knife. The Columbus Police Department immediately released the officer’s body camera video and tape of the 911 call to provide all the facts to the public.

Black Lives Matter seized upon the incident to further inflame racial division and hate of the police, and instead of reducing hostility by commenting on the facts of the officer-involved-shooting, the White House followed the BLM playbook and issued a shameful statement, denigrating America as a systemically racist country.

Our nation is at an extremely dangerous point. Black Lives Matter and Antifa mobs are undeterred from rioting in any Democrat-run city in America. We do not have mayors or a White House administration who support the police and the rule of law. The War on Cops is intensifying. Police officers are being ambushed and some Black Lives Matter activists have threatened assainations of police.

We have reached a crisis, but we can still solve this problem. Let us take a moment to look at what is really happening, decide where we need to go, and consider a common sense solution.

American law enforcement strives for excellence, and there is no doubt that policing can and should be made better through improved training and supervision; the monitoring, discipline and removal when necessary of bad officers; more positive community engagement, increased transparency and greater overall accountability. But reforming and improving the police are not what Black Lives Matter and their supporters in the Democratic Party and media want.  They do not want to improve the police — they want to abolish the police.

The core beliefs of BLM include defunding and abolition of the police, the dismantling of the Western nuclear family and the destruction of America. They are founded upon the lies that America, the least racist multi-racial country in the world, and the police as an institution are systemically racist and preach that all white people are racists. Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots, looting, arson and violence is accepted by Democrats and their media as appropriate responses to any action by the police the mob doesn’t like, and BLM now includes looting as part of their slavery reparations program.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democratic Party have always been upfront in their support of the BLM/Antifa mob.   They regularly proclaim that America and the police are systemically racist while ignoring the 637 violent protest and riots linked to Black Lives Matter resulting in $2 billion in property damage. Harris has lavished praise upon the Black Lives Matter Marxists.

The radical left and the media’s bogus claim that American policing is systemically racist and there is an epidemic of racially motivated shootings of black people by the police, particularly unarmed black men — is a proven lie.  Perpetuating the dangerous systemic racism myth by Democrats and the media results in hatred of the police and, by delegitimizing police authority, encourages people to resist arrest. It is the rhetoric and actions of Black Lives Matter, Democrats and the media — not the response of police — that is causing these tragic incidents to continue.

It doesn’t take rocket science to understand how this works. When black people are taught to believe the lie that America is an evil, illegitimate nation founded upon slavery and racism — they have no reason to respect its institutions and the rule of law. When black people are taught to believe the lie that American policing is systemically racist, they have no reason to comply with police commands. When black people are taught to believe the lie that police are methodically hunting and murdering them because of the color of their skin, they will think it better to resist and fight the police rather than peacefully submit to arrest. In this way, Black Lives Matter creates a deadly, self-serving cycle of violence. They manipulate black people to engage in behavior that escalates the risk of violence in police encounters. When people are killed or injured as a result, BLM claims that it is proof of systemic racism — reinforcing the lie and increasing the likelihood for more deaths — and riots to protest them.

Resisting arrest, fighting the police, attacking officers, or committing other crimes — are the common themes in every violent high-profile police-citizen encounter in recent memory.  In each case, it was the behavior of the subjects — either engaging in criminal behavior or refusing to comply with lawful commands — that escalated the situation, resulting in tragic consequences. The pattern is clear, but there is something we can do to change it.

I am proposing the Stop the Violence Challenge — a straightforward six-point plan that will reduce not only the number of black deaths, but of all Americans killed in police-citizen encounters to as few as possible. It’s very simple.

1. Respect the police.

2. Do not commit crime.

3. When given instructions or commands by a police officer, comply.

4. Do not resist arrest or fight the police.

5. Demand that all local, county and state prosecutors strictly enforce all laws with vigorous prosecution.

6. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly, request the officer’s name and badge number, and use the appropriate complaint system after the incident to investigate and address the issue.

That’s it. Just plain common sense.

It is time for American leaders to step up to stop the violence. I am calling upon EVERY:  Elected official at all levels of every party, from city council to the President; religious leader in every church, synagogue, and mosque; police chief and sheriff; college professor and schoolteacher; Hollywood celebrity and professional athlete; corporate head and business owner; civil rights activist; television and radio talk show host; and member of the media — to support and promote this sensible life-saving plan. We can make a difference.

If Americans pull together to spread the word and enlist every citizen to accept this challenge, fatal police shootings will be drastically reduced immediately. We cannot bring lost lives back, but we can prevent more lives from being lost.

Maurice Richards is the former Chief of the Martinsburg Police Department in West Virginia. He served as Chief from 2015 to 2020 after 24 years as an officer and lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department. Richards holds a doctorate in Adult Education from Northern Illinois University.