On Tuesday, an Amtrak police officer shot and killed Robert Brown, who was reportedly swinging a metal chair and threating police in 30th Street Station. Last Wednesday, a television news helicopter captured the violent arrest of car jacking suspect Thomas Jones by Philadelphia police.
The proximity of these two incidents is striking.
The incidents raise serious questions about the training of police in dealing appropriately with dangerous, high-stress situations.
Police officers need to be able to act rationally, even -- perhaps especially -- in life-threatening situations. Acting in impulse and on emotion puts laws, rights and lives in danger. Polic e officers must be held to a higher stadard to ensure that the civil rights of the people they are charged with protecting are maintained. Any lapse compromises the integrity, image and, above all, the effectiveness of the police forces involved and law-enforcement overall.
Adding to the damage inflicted in the incidents are reports that a Philadelphia police officer has been selling tee-shirts parodying the Jones incident. That's simply tasteless and offensive.
Despite the similarities between the two events, one should note their material differences. The first incident involved city police, the second the federally trained and supervised Amtrak force. In the first incident, Jones was arrested after allegedly pulling off carjacking, shooting at police, stealing a police car and leading officers on a high-speed chase. In the Amtrak situation, Brown, a homeless man with a reported history of mental illness, was armed with only a chair.
Both incidents are being investigated thoroughly by the appropriate agencies. Four investigations are being conducted into the Jones arrest alone. We trust that those investigations will be conducted fairly and will yield appropriate results.
We urge that judgement be reserved until all the facts are known. It's tempting to form one's own conclusions after seeing the video of Jones' arrest. It's also tempting to make comparison's between these incidents and other widely publicized incidents of police brutality. But it's important in the interest of justice to reserve judgement until all of the facts of each case are known.
It's unfortunate that both these incidents darken the city's image just weeks before the Republican convention. We hope that convention goers are able to enjoy the city's attractions in spite of the ugly incidents that have made headlines across the nation.
We also hope that police are capable of dealing with the thousands of protesters that are expected to flock to the city during the convention, as the events of the past week raise serious concerns that they may not in fact be prepared.Comments powered by Disqus
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