Dr. Mark Denison

Response to Police Abuse

Let’s look back three years. The recent events of Baltimore, along with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others, have fueled the hatred demonstrated against the police in many of our communities. Gallop recently published a national poll confirming that confidence in the police is at a ten-year low. While there are no clear statistics of the number of blacks killed by police that did not stop the Washington Post from decrying “the ever growing roster of black men killed by police.” Data supplied by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice debunks this myth, noting that “the rate of police killings of African-Americans has fallen by 70 percent over the past 40-50 years.” Let’s consider two other sets of statistics, starting with the number of police killed in America. Two hundred years ago, in 1814, there was exactly one officer killed all year. In 2014 that number was 117. Even adjusted for population growth, these are alarming numbers. And while many black leaders, such as Rev. Al Sharpton, loudly blame the police for a “killing spree” and “open season on black men,” let’s consider the numbers some of them don’t want to hear. In Chicago, more blacks were killed in the last ten years (4,422) than the total number of American soldiers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom (4,265). Blacks comprise 75 percent of all murdered in Chicago as well as 75 percent of all murderers. Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics finds that 93 percent of black killings are done by other blacks. The FBI says there are 17 blacks killed by other blacks each day.

There was understandable outcry over the Michael Brown shooting, given the initial reporting. But we have read far less about the 244 teenagers killed in Chicago since the death of Michael Brown. Few of us could name any of the 480 blacks who have been killed since the highly publicized death of Trayvon Martin. We have heard the names of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Have you heard these names: Andrew Brown, Dough Chambliss, Gregory McKinney, Joseph Lewis, and Kyle Robertson? These are just a few young black men recently killed by other young black men in Chicago. And while I’m sure you know the names of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, do you know these names: Demetrius Blackwell and Brian Moore? Blackwell is the black man charged with the murder of New York City police officer Brian Moore, who was buried Friday.

Does this mean all police officers are good? Of course not. There are bad actors in every field: politicians, mechanics, executives, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. But police do something the rest of us don’t do (other than military and firemen). They put their lives on the line every single day. For that, they deserve our respect and appreciation. The Bible speaks to this clearly. Paul said, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Whoever rebels against the authority it rebelling against what God has instituted” (Romans 13:1-2). I suggest each of us do four things in regards to the police. First, pray for them. Second, don’t expect perfection from them. Third, encourage them. Fourth, recognize that their place of authority is part of God’s plan. Every life taken at the hands of a murderer is a tragic loss. But let’s keep things in perspective. And let’s keep our police lifted before the throne of God.

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