Ferguson, Missouri, the site of the latest in a string of now-famous police shootings of citizens, was devastated last night as word came down that no indictment would brought against the Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man. With police shootings in California, Ohio, and even Hawaii, the list of police-involved shootings steadily grows. And with this increase in police violence grows a concern among many Americans that more and more citizens dead at the hand of police -- many of them unarmed, and even more of them being kids -- is a sign that our own police force is turning against the people they're supposed to be protecting.
In the past, you might have read about police-related shootings in the back pages of the newspaper, between the grocery-store coupons and the used-car ads. But for some reason, police nowadays seem to be shooting citizens more and more, resorting to gun violence more often.
Some would suggest that the world today might be more crime-ridden, even though many cities cite reductions in overall crime. Others would suggest that the slow economy might be driving criminals to be bolder in how they commit crimes. But with so many victims of police shootings being kids as young as 12 years old, one is led to believe that there is something else driving cops to pull out there guns at first thought, and it's not just the realistic toy guns those young kids might be holding.
To add fuel to the fire, we have seen an increase in police getting their hands on military hardware, including assault weapons, tanks and assault vehicles, and high-powered rifles. Some would argue that having an M16 instead of a mere stun gun would engender a heightened sense of confidence in a person who is authorized to use deadly force as part of his job. Training is supposed to help police regulate and determine what amount of force is required for a given situation, but as we watch the news, it increasingly appears that the use of deadly force is the default reaction for many officers.
No doubt social media also helps spur more awareness of police shootings. But the trend toward shooting unarmed adults and kids is both disturbing and concerning. We are supposed to be able to trust police, not worry if they are going to shoot us as we reach for our drivers license and insurance. Itchy trigger fingers are not an excuse for officers claiming self defense.
Police will continue to shoot kids, and to shoot unarmed citizens. The danger comes with the job. But there has to be a change in how we train and regulate our police agencies in order to prevent innocent people from being killed by police.
Unfortunately, the trend continues to indicate that we have a long way to go before reform sets in.