In one of the more absurd pieces published in quite some time, Mic.com‘s Jack Smith IV advised his readers how to handle conflict resolution in a piece titled “Don’t Call The Police.”
Smith’s completely insane contention is that the police are more inclined to cause a problem that otherwise would not have existed without their involvement.
“Charleena Lyles is dead because she called 911 for help,” he writes referring to a recent police shooting of a woman in Seattle, WA. “The officers said she had a knife when they arrived, and one of the responding officers had a habit of leaving his Taser behind. They shot and killed her, in front of her three children.”
According to the Seattle Times, Police had been called to Lyles apartment 23 times in 18 months.
Smith is right, Charleena Lyles is dead because she called 911. But he is assuming the police were at fault. And how many countless others are alive because they called 911 for help.
“And it’s not just violent outbreaks that can be avoided by cutting the police out of conflict resolution,” he adds, apparently without any thought as to how insane that sounds.
Violent outbreaks can be avoided by not calling the police? So, the police don’t serve as arbitrators who resolve conflict? According to Smith, they are the cause of violent outbreaks. What are they even doing there to begin with if everything is cool?
According to Smith, “Lyles’ death is one of an uncountable number of incidences where the police were called to mediate a conflict or crisis, and instead, the situation escalated into an outburst of unexpected police violence.”
He is right, the number of incidents where the situation escalates to “an outburst of unexpected police violence” is “uncountable.” But the number of resulting deaths is not. That number was 963 in 2016, according to the Washington Post.
The truly uncountable number is the amount of lives saved or potentially violent situations that have been de-escalated by the presence of law enforcement.
Aside from Lyle, Smith goes on to use other anecdotes to try to support his ridiculous argument as if exceptions to rules somehow disprove rules.
“Incidents of police violence often begin with incredible banal, everyday occurrences in police work.” he says. “In June, police responding to a noise complaint in Los Angeles shot and killed 17-year-old Armando Garcia-Muro, who was trying to keep control of a dog that got loose when the officer arrived. He shot for the dog, and hit Garcia-Muro in the chest.”
According to the Department of Justice, “in 2011, over 62.9 million U.S. residents age 16 or older, or 26% of the population, had one or more contacts with police during the prior 12 months.” And obviously, an overwhelmingly small percentage of the altercations ended in violence. But Jack Smith will find one that did and conclude that you shouldn’t call the police, according to idiotic logic.
So what are your options if you shouldn’t call the police?
“Cure Violence is a nationwide program that trains ‘interruptors,’ trusted members of their communities, local leaders, former gang members and others to seek out violence before it happens, break up fights and de-escalate conflicts before the police ever get involved,” according to Smith.
Now that is smart thinking. If you want to “de-escalate conflicts” you should always call former gang members before calling hot-headed, violence-prone police officers.
There are two things we can be sure of regarding the police. The first is that, with rare exception, the presence of police officers always serves as a positive force in dealing with any situation. And the second is that Jack Smith will not be calling former gang members to come resolve a potentially dangerous situation he is involved in. He will be the first person calling 911.
[image via screengrab]