- Faith & Family
It’s been 17 months since the first of eight police-involved shootings occurred in Miami’s Black communities of Liberty City, Overtown and Little Haiti. Some may dispute the use of the term “Black” when describing the victims, as some were born in America while others were Haitian natives. But it’s doubtful that as guns were drawn or even in the aftermath when reports were prepared, that many police officers pondered much over the specific ethnic backgrounds of the deceased. Eight Black men were shot — seven died. And still only one case has been resolved, that of DeCarlos Moore. Unofficial “juries” in the hood still question the State’s finding that cleared officers of any charges since Moore was unarmed.
It’s hard to maintain faith or confidence in a police department that has recently shown how little it values the lives of Black men. But perhaps we will finally see some much-needed and long overdue change to the practices and protocol of our local law enforcement with the recent decision of the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation. Officials have said they will look into allegations that officers from the City of Miami Police Department have routinely employed excessive deadly force. Guilt would mean we have some rogue, vigilante-like cops in our midst — a “few bad apples” as the saying goes. But remember that having a few bad “ones” can spoil the whole bunch. Because in jobs like law enforcement where the possibility of each day being an officer’s last, it’s easy to see why members of the “brotherhood” might tend to look the other way when one or more of them doesn’t follow the law while seeking to apprehend suspected criminals. Still, in the U.S. we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty — that extends to Black men too. We realize that being a police officer is a dangerous profession but it is a chosen career. One realizes and accepts the risks when placing that badge on their chest. At the same time, there is a code of ethics to which officers are sworn. And the last time we looked, that code guaranteed all citizens to be treated fairly and humanely. Black men in Miami have become the victims of shoot first and ask later far too often by our men and women in blue. Let’s hope the Justice Department brings swift and significant change so that the majority of good officers are not forced to decide between following bad cops and doing the right thing.