Police Shootings

While I assume that the quotes and cartoons in the “On the Record” feature do not necessarily represent the opinion of Hamodia, I think it is still important that the paper be careful as to what ideas are expressed on its pages.

In a cartoon depicting Capitol Police at the Washington riot of January 6, a policeman is portrayed saying “Don’t shoot if you see the white of their skin.” Unless I am misunderstanding, it seems to be highlighting the notion that police are more likely to shoot black criminals than white ones. This is nothing more than the canard of systemic racism in police forces that we have been hearing about for the last number of years.

This claim of racism is simply not true. An article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) National Academy of Science article of August 2019 (“Officer Characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings”) states: “We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings and white officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-white officers.”

While the authors were forced to retract their article under intense political pressure because conservative writers like Jason Riley and Heather Mac Donald starting quoting from it, the fundamental argument that is made in the article remains. The sad reality is that members of minorities are statistically more likely to be shot at by a police officer because they are more likely to be committing a violent crime. And this is true whether the police officer is white or black.

Furthermore, that minority member who is committing the crime is most likely committing it against a fellow member of his race. So, the officer who shoots at a black person is very likely saving the life of a different black person. This explains why some of the most vocal opposition to “defunding the police” comes from members of the black community who recognize that more police presence in their neighborhoods makes them safer, not less safe, as some media outlets try to portray it.

Chazal tell us to be mispallel b’shlomo shel malchus because without the fear of the government every man would swallow his friend alive. We have unfortunately seen what can become of the world without proper police control, whether it is left-wing rioters setting fire to people’s businesses and property in cities all across the country or right-wing rioters attacking the very Capitol of this nation. Proper police authority is the only thing that can maintain control. It behooves us as recipients of the tremendous chessed of this land to fully support the institutions that promote peace and prosperity here. The police are such an institution. Any call to demonize or defund the police should be responded to with a full-throated defense of the police officers who help maintain the order in society. An orderly society benefits everyone, black and white.

Eliyahu Kaufman, Dallas, Tex.