No reason for that kind of use of force in a peaceful protest: Former cop speaks out

Indian Country Today

'I worked alongside many police officers or a few police officers that really shouldn't have been there'

Kevin Allis is the chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians. While he was attending law school, he also for eight years as an officer with the Baltimore Police Department. In that role, he also served in an internal affairs division that investigated and prosecuted officers accused of using excessive force. 

He joins us today to share his perspective on the protests going on across the country in reaction to a history of police brutality.

Here are a few of his comments: 

“So both being on the street and through the administrative disciplinary process, I did see a few of these situations that were at times very difficult to witness and view and experience.”

“Our community members that we are sworn to protect, rely upon us, every day, to keep their streets safe, keep them safe, keep their family safe, keep their children safe and keep their communities and to the greatest extent possible thriving and vibrant communities.

“When we see situations that unfolded in Minneapolis over a week ago, it's really tough to digest both as a police officer and as a citizen.”

“Human resources departments really need to pay attention to the folks that are applying for these particular positions. Having something in their background that shows an experience of interacting with the community, would go a long way in making sure that they're a right fit for this particular job.”

“It's not an easy job, you go to work every day, not knowing if you're going to come home.”

“It is a dangerous job. It's a job that's filled with enormous responsibility and just that responsibility alone creates a lot of its own stress.”

“Ultimately, when you wear a badge and gun you have the right to take somebody's life in a particular situation.”

“There was regular training in the police department that I was a member of, but it was annual. It wasn't constant. It was more, it seemed to be a check the box type of thing, just have to be frank about that. Many of the things that we learned, we might have a half hour or 45 minute class and then the next time we addressed that was a year later.”

“There really could be a better training process.”

“It takes time to learn how to perform and be an effective, responsible police officer. The training needs to build in a component that maps that out and monitors that.”

“The review process on performance review, I found it to be again, another check the box situation. In many cases, very few police officers receive bad reviews. Yet, I worked alongside many police officers or a few police officers that really shouldn't have been there.”

“There should be some kind of outside review, but, but it needs to be thoughtful.”

“When you're in any profession, you're going to get bad apples. You get people that just aren't the proper fit whether they just can't perform up to the level that's required, or they have the wrong mindset approaching the job.”

“You don't get to find out who those bad apples are in time until it's too late.”

“Not everybody is cut out to be a police officer. Not everybody is cut out to be a lawyer. Not everybody's cut out to be a doctor.”

“We can't risk the safety of the community, the respect of the community and the trust of the community by not having the internal processes in place to make sure that we ferret out bad actors or just people that just aren't a proper fit.”

“I've been in all these different situations and every time you get into a situation where it gets a little tense, your adrenaline is rocking and rolling.”

“Very similar to probably an NFL football player, when they're putting on their gear, getting ready to go out on the field, your body is ready to enter into a really tense situation that at a snap of a finger, the blink of an eye, things can go from good to bad in a heartbeat.”

“What we saw around Lafayette Square the other day, federal officers dawn in this military SWAT tactical type of gear, what was going inside their body. I know exactly what they were feeling and it didn't meet or match the threat that was on the other side. So if something would have gone off in a second unexpected, bad things could have happened.”

“There was absolutely no reason for that to happen yesterday. There was no reason for that kind of use of force in a peaceful protest where people weren't addressed.”

“It's a very difficult situation, again, it's what you plant and which seeds you plant in the head of the police officer and how they're supposed to respond to something.”

“I'm very sensitive to veterans serving as police officers. That's a natural landing spot.”

“A majority of these folks are very good, solid police officers. A majority of them have rarely been in these kinds of situations in civilian lifestyle. A majority of them haven't had extensive training on how to react to the things that may go on. When you put that kind of pressure on them, that they need to shut this down immediately, you're helping fuel a really bad outcome.”

“Right now the only safe environment is a virtual environment to make sure that we're 100% safe and to keep our employees or constituents or members or tribal leaders, whoever they are, our friends need to be safe.

"You have to look out for them and not yourself. We do plan large events and we are planning for them to be safe environments.”

“We need to think of them first and figure out creative ways to make things happen in this new virtual environment that we're facing today.”

Also in the newscast, reporter Aliyah Chavez gives the tally of primary elections across the country and Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest numbers of positive COVID-19 tests in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the program is Patty Talahongva. 

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