Last year police in Columbus shot 19 civilians; eight of which died. This marks the second highest number of police shootings in the past 15 years and the highest rate of mortalities since 1997. The police say the bad guys are more brazen, and community leaders largely agree.
In August, 2011, police shootings spiked with six people shot and four killed.
But Sgt. Rich Weiner, a police spokesperson, says police can’t be blamed, that they are only reacting to civilian actions. “We’re not the ones choosing to do this,” he says. “The suspect has chosen to do something that necessitates our using that kind of force.”
According to the Columbus Dispatch, police have averaged 13.5 shootings each year for the past 15 years, with the highest total being 21 in 2008.
Interestingly, officer death-by-firearms have also been increasing. Last year more officers were killed by firearms than in traffic accidents for the first time in 14 years. Is it possible that this is in the back of officers’ heads when they approach volatile situations? Of course. But, as community activist Cecil Ahad says, it’s also due to a growing apathy among young men within impoverished neighborhoods.
“He sees the police-involved shootings as a symptom of the rift between the police and the community, and of the desperation of young men who believe they have little to live for,” report Stephanie Czekalinski and Theodore Decker.
Police may or may not be more apt to shoot suspects now than before. But their conflicts are becoming more volatile as the police are growingly militaristic and people prone to criminality are facing bleaker and bleaker outlooks.
It’s precisely these exchanges that leave mothers in inner city neighborhoods petrified when their sons go out for the night, unsure of whether or not they will see them again, or if the next time they see them will be from behind thick visiting-room plexiglass.
When you live in a city like Columbus, it’s crucial that you remain calm when dealing with the police. Even if they are wrong for executing a search or arrest, you could put yourself in a dire situation if you resist or fight back. Instead, you are likely safer to just allow them to do their job and sort the rest out in court.