Editorial: George Floyd should not have had to die for the world to recognize law enforcement unaccountability

Demonstrators carry a Black Lives Matter banner during an Arlington NAACP rally outside the Ott Cribbs Public Safety Center on June 13 in Arlington. 

After a year of protests and outrage across the globe, Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted April 20 on all counts of murder and manslaughter for the death of George Floyd last May. 

This conviction is not justice, it is merely a step toward accountability. Police officers are rarely convicted for murdering unarmed civilians. The Shorthorn editorial board agrees with many UTA students that the U.S. police system is broken. We believe the justice system needs to reexamine qualified immunity and reallocate funds toward better training and education for law enforcement officers.  

Systemic racism is rooted in politics, academia and entertainment as well as the legal and police systems in the U.S., regardless of the intentions of people working within them. The use of deadly force is not an acceptable pattern of behavior. Police officers should not be allowed to kill unarmed citizens with no accountability.  

The Arlington community has not escaped this type of police brutality.  

In 2019, a former Arlington police officer fatally shot an unarmed woman lying in the grass off North Collins Street, after allegedly attempting to shoot a charging dog. During different instances, Arlington police officers used lethal force against Jonathan Paul, Christian Taylor, Tavis Crane and O’Shae Terry, who were all unarmed, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  

Qualified immunity often shields police officers from liability. According to NPR, to hold police officers accountable for violating someone’s rights, the violation must be “clearly established” in existing case law. But since police officers are rarely held accountable, there is little previously established standard.   

The police continuously get away with incompetence and malice.  

Officers need more extensive training to serve and protect the public. Police officers receive about 60 hours of training, on average, in law, said Randy Shrewsberry, founder of the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform, in an April 17 NPR article. This isn’t enough time to adequately learn the material. Shrewsberry said fear-based training models teach officers to react to things that are unlikely to happen.   

There should also be residency requirements for officers because they are more effective at policing communities they live in, according to NPR. 

The Shorthorn editorial board believes the U.S. needs to reallocate funds toward extensive training for law enforcement officers in diversity, equity and inclusion. We need to hold those who enforce the law accountable for their wrongdoings. 

Floyd should not have had to die for the world to recognize police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. But this should be a turning point for law enforcement practices. Advocate for police reform and demand that lawmakers support bills abolishing qualified immunity.  

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Katecey Harrell; Editor-in-Chief Cecilia Lenzen; associate news editor Spencer Brewer; Samantha Knowles, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Adrian Rodriguez; news reporter Thevnin Rumende; and copy editor Jill Bold. 

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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