The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last week added fresh pain to the longstanding and unresolved crisis of police killings of black Americans. Joshua DuBois, the former head of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Obama White House, has offered a simple way to do something. In a July 7 Facebook post, DuBois wrote in response to the Sterling and Castile shootings:
Please support criminal justice reform at the federal level and other systemic reforms. That is absolutely the most important way to respond to these killings. But you can also take a step in your community.
Then, he explained how.
1. Google the name of your local police chief.
2. Determine the email format (@ city.com) for your city, or find the chief's email online.
3. Send them a note, perhaps something like this:
"Dear Chief _____,
My name is ___ and I'm a resident of ____.
I'm deeply disturbed by what's happening with Philando Castille and others around the country killed by officer-involved shootings. [[I am not African American myself,]] but this really impacts me.
As a concerned citizen, I had a few questions for you:
--Do officers in our city take anti-bias training? Every single person has some level of bias, no matter who we are. Are our officers trained to understand their own biases and reduce them in conflict situations?
--Are our officers trained to deescalate conflict and use non-lethal force where possible? In routine traffic stops with African American citizens of our town, can we be sure that all officers will keep their heads about them?
--Finally, is there anything I can do to help you build support for anti-bias education and non-lethal interventions?
I appreciate the extreme difficulty of the job of a police officer, and also the vulnerability that many African Americans feel when confronting police. I want you to know that as a citizen of this town I will support you when you take steps to resolve these issues.