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Policing and the Domestic Arms Race

Policing and the Domestic Arms Race

Monday, December 8, 2014
New York Daily News

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

...Low-income communities of color are faced with a long-standing dilemma. At one extreme, we are underpoliced. You call the police, and they take their time arriving — or don’t show up at all, leaving our communities to fend for themselves.

At the other extreme — the one that has now erupted into view — we are overpoliced. We call the police, and they show up primed for battle, uninterested in distinguishing friend from foe. Case in point: Six armed officers confront an unarmed Eric Garner and can’t manage to arrest him without a take-down that proves fatal.

To be fair, most of our experience with the NYPD happens between these extremes. Many of our congregants’ interactions with NYPD officers are positive. But the extremes persist — in parts of New York and nationwide.

...One huge difference between their daily situations and those of their American counterparts: Cops in the U.S. face heavily armed populations. Unlike in Europe, where gun ownership is restricted and carrying a weapon is virtually unheard of, a police officer in the United States never knows when he or she will encounter a person with a gun who is willing to use it to avoid arrest.

Ask any cop about their greatest fear — better yet, ask any cop’s spouse — and you will hear the same answer: getting shot. European cops have no such fears.

For decades, we’ve had a domestic arms race in the U.S., driving police to equip themselves with greater firepower. We must de-escalate this arms race. It’s why we’ve asked Mayor de Blasio to sign onto our campaign and join 67 other jurisdictions to use their combined purchasing power to promote dramatic change in the gun industry.