The US has been swept by protests again after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a police officer. The fact that the incident took place several kilometres from the site where George Floyd died only fuelled public anger over what is believed to be police violence. Is there an option to end to police violence and public disorder?
Dr. Robert Gonzalez, an NYPD veteran and professor of criminal justice at St John’s University spoke to Sputnik about the flaws in the US police system. He thinks one unified policing system needs to be created in the US to stop civilians being killed.
Sputnik: Despite lengthy protest from the Black Lives Matter movement, accidental police killings of civilians still continue. Why?
Dr. Robert Gonzalez: The United States does not have one unified use of force system. Of the seventeen thousand police departments in the United States, many of them have their own system and their own set of guidelines as it relates to use of force. So there’s a lot of confusion as to what’s appropriate and not appropriate. What’s legal and what’s not legal and what’s ethical and what’s not ethical as it relates to use of force. So people who live in New York City may view use of force differently than individuals who might live in Los Angeles, the other side of the country. So until there’s one uniform system of use of force, you’re going to continue to have these riots and protests and demonstrations because no one understands the appropriate steps as it relates to use of force.
Sputnik: And what is your stance on the police system in the US in general? What needs to be changed?
Dr. Robert Gonzalez: Well, I think the president and the Department of Justice need to establish a panel of experts to create one system, one use of force guideline that every law enforcement agency in the United States must abide by. Right now, that’s not the case. So until we have one unified system, there’s always going to be confusion as to what’s appropriate and what the best way of dealing with use of force incidents, such as the ones that we’ve seen here in America over the course of the last year.
Sputnik: And what do you think should be done in order to implement this one unified use of force?
Dr. Robert Gonzalez: Again, they need to put together a panel of experts and create a new use of force continuum that’s endorsed and sanctioned by the federal government and supported by the federal, state and local law enforcement agency. So everyone has one system of use of force guidelines. Right now, there’s just too much confusion on what the best action is and the best way of handling a use of force incident.