Former Atlanta Police chief Erika Shields has a new job but the same losing perspective. Shields is quoted by Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Christian Boone about the officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks that it is unfair to judge and officer on just “a snippet” of an incident. In fact, there were numerous complaints against fired office Garrett Rolfe that were consistently ignored by both the Atlanta Police Department and Fulton County prosecutors. Shields says further that “I think we were drilling down in the area of police reform. We were on the right track.”
The “right track” is recognizing that assuming her good intentions, the system of policing in America is indelibly flawed. Police leadership is unable or unwilling to identify traits and conduct in officers that could prevent deaths of unarmed Black citizens and end the oppression of Black communities. High school graduates are inherently unprepared for the complexities of mental health, generational poverty, institutional racism and the associated community anger, apathy and despondency. The system of hiring, training, supervising and management will continue to produce the events in Atlanta, Kenosha, Louisville, New York, Cleveland, Sanford, Ferguson and Minneapolis. Speaking of Louisville, it is that police department who has hired Shields. We can expect more Breonna Taylor’s, not only in Louisville but across America. Public Safety must be restructured beyond fire, medical emergency and armed officers. Without such restructuring, there can be no meaningful reform.