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By: Darwin Campbell
Author of column series “The Black Whisperer”

We Charge You To Protect, Serve & Honor Thy Citizens- It’s in the Oath

On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.
I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution my community and the agency I serve.

Source: Police Oath of Honor, International Association of Chiefs of Police

It is too much to ask police officers to just to remember the words of their oath before they start firing weapons, pulling tasers, beating and killing people.

A Little Restraint Goes a Long Long Way.

Sandra Bland

A little restraint would have saved the life of Sandra Bland.

After being pulled over in July 2015. Dashcam video shows Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia pulled Bland over in Prairie View. after she failed to signal a lane change. When Bland’s conversation with Encinia became heated, he arrested her on a charge of assaulting a public servant. He ordered Bland out of the car and drawing his stun gun while yelling, “I will light you up! Bland can later be heard screaming off-camera that the trooper was about to break her wrists. She was taken to jail and three days later dead of an apparent suicide in the Waller County Jail.

Corey Jones

A little restraint would have saved the life of Corey Jones.

Jones, who was shot three times in October 2015 by a plainclothes police officer earlier that day as he waited for a tow truck on the side of the highway in their native Florida.

Jones was a well-known musician, worked two jobs, including for the Delray Beach Housing Authority, and had no history of violence. He was the cousin of NFL Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin and NFL Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork.

Jordan Edward

A little restraint would have saved the life of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

In a Dallas suburb. Edwards was a freshman at Mesquite High School, near his home in Balch Springs, Texas. He had good grades and played quarterback and receiver on the football team.

Edwards was shot and killed by then Officer, Roy D. Oliver II, Saturday night as he and a group of friends were leaving a house party. Balch Springs Police Department hadresponded to reports of underage drinking at a house party. Former Officer Oliver and another officer entered the house but left after the police said they heard gunshots outside the residence. As a car with five black teenagers inside drove away from the house, Mr. Oliver, who is white, fired his AR-15 rifle, fatally striking Jordan Edwards. It was found that the officer’s story did not match the video from the scene.

Sadly, Edwards is the youngest of the more than 330 people who have been shot and killed by police in 2017, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. 

Latest statistics show that about 25 percent of those fatally shot by police this year have been Black, and about 7 percent of those killed have been unarmed at the time they were shot. At least 10 people shot and killed by police this year were under  18.

The oath is suppose to be one of the bedrock principles that drives us toward believing and trusting that law enforcement is here to protect and serve us so that we can feel safer and live our lives in this busy and confused word.

What colors the waters on this issue are the cops who just don’t get it and who don’t seem to care about the tenets of that oath. Even less when it comes to policing a poor, economically challenged Black neighborhood void of businesses and filled with blight and unemployment. Black and Brown lives become Grey and insignificant. So, officers don’t come with the oath in mind, it appears that they are on the hunt to find prey to shoot and kill.

Breaking Down The Oath

I think it is time to remind police officers from their own association what the oath really and truly means:

Honor means that one’s word is given as a guarantee.
Betray is defined as breaking faith with the public trust.
Badge is the symbol of your office.
Integrity is being the same person in both private and public life.
Character means the qualities that distinguish an individual.
Public trust is a charge of duty imposed in faith toward those you serve.
Courage is having the strength to withstand unethical pressure, fear or danger.
Accountability means that you are answerable and responsible to your oath of office.
Community is the jurisdiction and citizens served.

According to International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oath of Honor provides the law enforcement profession with a concise, powerful and universal process by which officers can affirm and periodically reaffirm their ethical values and beliefs.

This concise oath summarizes police values in a simple statement lending itself to continuous and convenient application in both public and professional settings. It is suppose to be the constant reminder of their purpose of service.

Police departments need to stand down and go back to the basic training of knowing, understanding and truly practicing this oath instead of closing themselves in bunkers, berms and walls and hunkered down trying to win a public relations wars in the media against the Black and Brown communities to save its own face.

Take Away

The solution to police killings is simple. Focus on your own oath.

Make it mean something, show us it does and then make us believe in it again.

The African American News&Issues and the Black Whisperer publishes this reminder that law enforcement should stop making excuses for failed cops and quit complaining and lobbying so much to cover your butt-skins and focus more on living the words of the oath with integrity and respecting the lives of the people you serve.

And that means All of us. Black, Brown, Yellow, Red and in between…

If more emphasis has been on the sanctity of life and living this oath in full service to others similar to how Jesus Christ lived, then Bland, Edward and Jones and many others like them would still be alive today….