Finding a Middle Ground

Police related deaths have brought more attention to the justice system.


Taliya James

An uproar in protests have spiraled due to the recent police related death.

Zane Brownsberger

In 2020, police shot and killed 1,021 people, and 2021 is on track for a similar amount of shootings. Every year since 2015, police have shot and killed around 1,000 people. In total, half of the people killed by the police are white people (15 per million), but black people are killed statistically more (36 per million). In 2020, the police killed 819 people who were armed with a knife or gun, 196 of those people were black.

The issue of how police do their job was something everyone knew about, but it was brought to the forefront in the summer of 2020. With the Black Lives Matter Movement and many protests, it became something everyone was talking about. Around the time of the presidential election, it seemed something would change, but so far nothing has.

On May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN, George Floyd was killed by a police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes. Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill and the police were called. The officers on the scene attempted to arrest him and he resisted, which resulted in Chauvin putting Floyd on the ground to get control of the situation and ended up killing him. Recently, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. 

Not an hour before Chauvin was charged, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a police officer, Nicholas Reardon, in Columbus, OH. Reardon was called for a domestic disturbance and when he pulled up to the scene, he exited his car and Bryant charged at a girl who fell in front of Reardon. At this time Reardon lunged at Bryant and was unable to reach her. The officer saw a knife in Bryant’s hand while she rushed a different girl who was pinned up against a car. As Bryant pulled back her arm, Reardon fired four shots. Bryant died from her wounds later at Mount Carmel East hospital at 5:21 pm.

Later that day there were protesters at the scene of the shooting. They decided Reardon had shot and killed Bryant because she is black before any real information had come out. They never gave themselves the time to think about what happened from Reardon’s perspective, and didn’t give anyone the chance to explain what happened. 

The bodycam footage from Reardon was released to the public the day after the shooting. Clearly showing that Bryant was trying to stab the other girl and that Reardon was in the right. Looking at something from another side’s perspective can drastically change how people think about something, and it could improve how people view the police.

Another thing that really could be improved upon is people telling the police what to do when they don’t know what they should do. People have claimed Reardon could have tried to de-escalate the situation instead of shooting Bryant, but he didn’t even get a chance to try. He had to make a split-second decision. The events of the Bryant shooting happened within 10 seconds. Although people do make good points, kneeling on someone’s neck for nine and a half minutes is obviously not the correct decision, and Chauvin had a lot of time to correct what he was doing.

There are definitely things the police could do to make themselves better; more training is something that would have a drastic improvement on the police. More training means police officers are better equipped to handle all types of calls. The tactics used by Chauvin have not been taught for several years due to their dangerous nature, and other tactics like that can be changed when officers have more time to train to understand what they’re doing.

A big thing for more training is funding. Many police stations are severely underfunded, and recent movements to defund them could seriously harm them. Taking from an already small budget that is used to buy equipment, pay officers, fuel cars, and much more. More training is becoming less and less realistic with every dollar that is taken away from police.

I think in general, there is too big of a gap between police and everyone else. More training and just looking at things from the perspective of the officers could really improve. It could prevent another situation like Floyd from happening, and also make future generations more comfortable around the police.