RACISM IN POLICING
More Police Would Not Have Stopped The Tragedy in Brooklyn — Here’s Why
The road to public safety is paved with good intentions
On Tuesday, April 12th, a man wearing a gas mask “set off smoke grenades in a crowded subway” Brooklyn, New York. Then, he opened fire, injuring at least 23 people during their morning commute. According to officers, the gunmen left some things behind, a “Glock 9-millimeter handgun, three ammunition magazines, a hatchet, fireworks and a liquid believed to be gasoline,” and a key to a Uhaul van rented in Philidelphia. As a result of that key, officers have named a Black man, 62-year-old Frank R. James as a person of interest. Officers have not found or questioned James yet, though ABC News says a “man-hunt” is still underway.
Any act of violence that publically terrorizes a community is unequivocally wrong, but so is the way many White Americans frame crime in urban areas. When a Black person commits a violent crime, there’s often a subsequent demand to put more officers on the street. However, more officers would not have stopped the tragedy in Brooklyn, New York.
Years ago, I visited Brooklyn, staying there for 3-months. My stop was the Kingston–Throop Avenues station. This area had predominately Black-owned businesses, not far from Peaches, a restaurant that serves southern comfort food; the owner is from New Orleans, so I felt right at home. But, my point in telling you this is that I know what policing was like in New York’s subways. We often saw police officers patrolling at night. However, when you go through the turnstiles, there is no process where officers routinely search you. How, then, could we expect an increased police presence to stop Tuesday’s tragedy?
I’ve written about this before, but police officers do not typically prevent crimes from happing — this is not Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Police respond to crimes, and unless they see someone committing a crime or a suspect, they are not preventing crimes from occurring — they are responding to crimes and deterring criminal activity. If you walk through the turnstiles in Brooklyn, officers won’t be checking your bags like the TSA at the airport. So, how would they have known that a man would start shooting or…