The police involved shooting at Park Plaza Mall is the latest in a string of incidents involving use of force. And I'm concerned about the impact it will have on the men and women of the LRPD.
My concern is about what I see as a lack of transparency from LRPD on these incidents, and a fear it will cause what is called an unintended consequence. I talked about this during our morning radio program on Fresh Talk 93.3.
Several people have mentioned this string of incidents to me, most in the "what is going on over there" kind of way. When the citizens loose confidence in the leadership of a government body, citizens (or certain groups) will seek to impose their own oversight. And that's what I'm afraid of for a couple of reasons.
With leadership comes the responsibiity to keep citizens both informed and confident in the decision making process.
In other cities where there has been concern about "use of force" by police, there have been moves for so-called Citizen Oversight Committees. I generally don't find that to be a good idea. I know police train heavily on the split second life and death decisions officers have to make. In my early years as a reporter, I sat through some of the training, so I have an understanding of what that training involves. It would be unfair to put officers in a position of having to not trust their training for fear of the pending oversight of their split second decisions.
My other concern, because some of these incidents involved officers working off duty jobs, is there will be a push to limit or reduce the off duty jobs. My general sense is that when you have to put on a bullet proof vest to go to work, you should be paid more. Many police officers depend on those off-duty jobs to provide the extras their families want. I don't want to see that option removed for those who want the off duty work.
I think we have a very good police department, and I have every confidence in our Chief. But in the area of transparency, they need to find a way to improve while they protect the integrity of their investigations. It can be done. It is the confidence I have in these leaders and officers that makes me comfortable in saying "C'mon, you can do better".