Sunday, April 19, 2015

Police Unions, Facing Public Anger, Rethink How to Address Shootings

Amid nationwide outrage over a police officer’s shooting eight bullets at the back of an unarmed, fleeing suspect in South Carolina, the statement by the local police union had a half-sentence of regret and contrition: Yes, it said, the fatal shooting was “beyond comprehension.”
But the rest of the seven-paragraph statement by John C. Blackmon, the president of Tri-County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 in South Carolina, was more about lashing out at the “untruths” of critics and defending the police than reflecting on the shots fired by Michael T. Slager, the North Charleston police officer who killed Walter L. Scott.
...But amid a rising tide of anger and resentment directed at the police and, perhaps more important, vivid video documentation debunking or calling into question the accounts of officers, police union officials around the country are rethinking how best to get their message out.
The instinct of many is to hold the line against what they see as efforts to undermine the police by focusing on relatively rare failings of officers. But others are considering whether a new, more inward-looking approach is warranted.

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