Paying for Forgiveness

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It seems the government is in now in the business of paying for forgiveness. It was something that we’ve been told for years couldn’t be done, yet municipalities across the nation are showing us different.

They’re paying black mothers for the actions of poorly-trained and trigger-happy law enforcement officers that resulted in deaths of their loved ones.

Before anyone starts ranting and raving about how I’m bashing police, please understand I’m not. I also know that there are three sides to every story and we may never really know exactly what happened. What we do know is that someone feels like the mothers involved can dry their tears with green tissue paper.

Look at the evidence:

  • Freddie Gray’s family received a $6.4 million civil settlement from the City of Baltimore. Under the settlement, the city accepts all civil liability in the April 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old Gray suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. The settlement says that the city doesn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing by police. Six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport in a police van have been charged with crimes ranging from murder to assault. All of them have pleaded not guilty. Under the claim, the city would pay $2.8 million during the current fiscal year and $3.6 million next year. The settlement helps to avoid a lawsuit.
  • Eric Garner’s family received $5.9 million from New York City after he died in police custody in July 2014.
  • In June, Baltimore officials agreed to pay $56,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that a police chase led to the death in 2012 of 22-year-old Jordasha Rollins. The money was awarded to the family of the young woman, who was a passenger in a vehicle struck by a car fleeing from police.

And the money doesn’t just roll out in Baltimore and NYC. The Queen City of Charlotte wrote a check of its own this year.

The family of Jonathan Ferrell reached an agreement in a civil suit after Ferrell was killed in an officer involved shooting. The officer, who was later found not guilty, was accused of firing 12 shots hitting Ferrell 10 times after the former FAMU football player had gotten into a wreck and ran to a home for help. The homeowner called the police and may have mistaken the young man as a burglar.

The $2.25 million settlement contains no admission of fault or liability on behalf of the city.

A dangerous trend is developing.

You don’t have to really claim liability but I question whether any municipality would freely give up funds as hard as they are to come by these days.

I also feel like if training is indeed a problem, isn’t it much cheaper to provide law enforcement with more than the state-offered training?

Better yet, how about you provide the training for both the police and the communities that they protect and serve? Stranger danger wouldn’t be so widespread when it came to those in uniform if both parties knew each other better without negative interaction. Quite frankly, the last few years have done nothing to help an already-strained relationship between several different groups of people.

Perhaps instead of preparing to buy forgiveness, governments should put themselves in a position to challenge negative stereotypes on both sides of the fence, bring a community together while making it safer and make sure that police/citizen interaction includes going on home at night.

For both parties.

I’m just saying.

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