People awoke this morning to news of the shooting of U.S. Police Officers in Dallas, Texas while the city took part in a Black Lives Matter march.
At the time of writing, five officers have been confirmed dead, with another six injured.
The peaceful Black Lives Matter protest was sparked by the killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Alton Sterling was shot multiple times while seemingly restrained on the ground.
Just hours later in Minnesota, Philando Castile’s car was stopped for a broken taillight. He was asked to produce his driver’s license and shot dead when he reached into his pocket to retrieve it.
As you can expect, such murders, and the countless murders before them, have sparked outrage – not only in the black community, but across every community of right-thinking individuals across the globe.
However, in all the fury it’s easy to forget that, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a police officer in the U.S. is killed every 61 hours.
This in no way excuses the killing of civilians, such as Philando and Alton, which take place in the U.S. every day. But if you were to work in an environment were every 61 hours a colleague of yours is killed, it is hard to argue that you wouldn’t be jittery at times.
And it’s not just killings, in 2014, there were 15,725 assaults against law enforcement officers, resulting in 13,824 injuries.
So it is easy to see how members of the police could feel threatened, creating a toxic culture of fear that leads to these tragic uses of excessive force.
However, so far in 2016 police have been responsible for the deaths of 604 civilians, reports Killed By Police. Disturbingly, by July 7th last year there were almost exactly the same number of deaths at police hands, 605.
This means that in America a civilian is killed by the police every seven and a half hours – which makes the police look positively safe in comparison.
In my opinion there needs to be far more checks on the police in the U.S. to make sure they are mentally stable enough to go about their job, and that they are free from any prejudices that could influence how they deal with a situation.
As Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota said following the murder of Philando Castile:
Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have.
According to ProPublica analysis of FBI data from between 2010 and 2012, young black males were 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than young white males.
This cannot continue to happen.
There needs to be a complete dissection of American police departments so that they can weed out the rogue officers, and keep only the honest, genuine, and good-natured ones.
I just hope that members of the U.S. Police, or members of the public for that matter, don’t hit the streets with a distorted motive for revenge following today’s attacks.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.