The Gwinnett County Police Department Strikes a Cord and Sets a New Tone for Policing

The Gwinnett County Police Department is getting a huge round of applause from many in the African American community after they took the swift and correct action to immediately terminate two White officers, Master Officer Robert McDonald and Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni who were caught on video assaulting 21-year-old Demetrious Hollins on April 12 during a traffic stop.

The video which was shot by a nearby motorist was on social media moments after it happened and it wasn’t long before it went viral. Soon after, the local media began reporting the story and the very next day the video made national news. Unfortunately, these videos have become far to commonplace usually ending with lethal results. Hence while the assault was typical, the end result was not in two ways.

First, Mr. Hollins should consider himself blessed that he did not end up in a body bag, which is what has happened too often when young Black men intersect with aggressive White officers. Second, the Gwinnett County Police Department raise the bar and should also do in these instances, immediately terminate the officers! No one who does not present an immediate threat of a clear and present danger to the officer or is visibly resisting arrest should end up dead after a traffic stop, unless there are some extenuating circumstances.

I know for a fact that members of the Black community are absolutely fed up with the system that continuously graces the officers with a paid vacation after such atrocities, claims to investigate the incident, and then never, ever finds any wrong-doing with the officer’s actions, ever!

I have heard far too many Black men report how they have been stopped and harassed by particularly by White officers for no other reason than being Black. It is a fact in America in 2017 that you can justifiably be killed merely for being Black and doing very ordinary things like shopping in a store, playing in a park, or riding in a car.

However, many in the Black community believe the Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers did the right thing when he took the bold and highly unusual step to fire both officers who engaged in punching and kicking Mr. Hollins who had his hands up when he was punched and was handcuffed on the ground when he was viciously kicked in the face.

Obviously, some naysayers are calling Chief Ayers approach a rush to judgement, but those clearly are not people who have been on the receiving end of excessive force.

There is no denying the value of a video in police interactions although they typically do nothing to guarantee justice for Black people even in the most egregious cases of excessive force. Still, all we can do is hope and pray that other police departments will take a page out of Chief Ayers book on policing and finally begin to attempt the bridge the gap between the Black community and law enforcement.

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