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As Incidents of Police Misconduct and Abuse Pile up Nationwide, Justice for their Victims Remains Fleeting

Officer Marco Becerra

As Incidents of Police Misconduct and Abuse Pile up Nationwide, Justice for their Victims Remains Fleeting

A staggering 1,094 people have been killed by American police so far in 2017. At the current pace, this will make 2017 the second deadliest year ever measured for police violence. As I’ve said many times here, and across the country, most Americans can’t name a single victim. Trump has all but sucked the wind out of the entire news cycle.

The State of Virginia could soon free over 200 inmates after a local newspaper investigated the state’s unfair application of its three-strikes law. Because of the way the law is currently being applied, hundreds of non-violent offenders are serving longer prison sentences than some convicted murderers.

Body camera policies across the country are failing. For police departments that actually took the step toget the cameras, many, including the Denver Police Department, allowofficers to use the footage from their cameras as “cheat sheets” as they write their reports. Because officers are allowed to see the footage before they write their reports, they have the opportunity to explain away what the footage may or may not have caught and create stories around the footage. A better policy would be to require officers to write their reports without access to the footage, then compare the two for accuracy.

It’s not enough to have body cameras — the policies governing them have to be progressive as well.

Activists and organizers in Austin, Texas, and around the country, are smartly targeting the police contracts in their city. Unbeknownst to everyday people, those contracts often go out of their way to protect even the bad apples in local police departments. Because, in most cases, the contracts only come up for renewal every four or five years, the opportunity for local activists to have a say in the negotiations doesn’t come around very often. This process needs to be open and transparent for all to see.

Very few police officers are ever held accountable for even the most egregious shootings and acts of violence. Over the course of this past week, that trend has continued in many cases where families and victims expressed genuine hope for justice.

A Dallas cop who was filmed wrongfully shooting a mentally ill man in the gut was sentenced to just two years of probation. The cop and his partner told multiple lies about the incident and should’ve received hard time.

Another Texas cop fired his gun through the wall of his apartment, critically injuring a sleeping neighbor. He admitted it, but was found not guilty of recklessly shooting a firearm. If the neighbor had accidentally shot the cop while he was sleeping you and I know the neighbor would be jail right now.

In both of those shootings the victims suffered from life-altering injuries, but the cops got off without serving even a day of jail time.

Minnesota, with the family of Philando Castile, is continuing the national trend of refusing to hold the cops accountable criminally while paying out enormous sums of money to those families on the back end.

All over the country police officers continue to be charged with horrific sex crimes. These are all from this past week alone:

A cop from Yuma, Arizona was arrested for raping a woman in San Diego.

A California cop who was charged with three felony counts of statutory rape just resigned. How was he not fired?

A Utah cop was arrested and charged with having sex with an underage boy.

A Connecticut cop was charged with sexually assaulting a juvenile inmate.

A Wisconsin cop was charged with sexual exploitation of a child.

A Hawaii cop was sentenced to jail for soliciting a prostitute.

Shaun King is a writer in residence with the Fair Punishment Project. He is a father, writer, humanitarian, political commentator and activist who lives in Brooklyn. He was previously Senior Justice Writer for the New York Daily News. The views and opinions expressed in this article are Shaun’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Fair Punishment Project.