Letter: Establish a national police training program

Establish national police training program

To the editor:

Six months ago, I submitted the following comment to the New York Times in response to an article concerning the right to carry guns, which the Times added to its "comments" column:

"The NAACP should work with the NRA to provide a pistol and an AR-15 to poorer blacks as soon as they come of age so they can also benefit from the rights granted under the Second Amendment — to protect themselves from criminals, gang members and to defend their homes. This should reduce racism because the police will have to work more closely with blacks to insure that they, like whites, have equal rights to conceal and openly carry guns. Police departments will have to train their officers to refrain from shooting blacks just because they are armed — legally.

"Of course there may be instances when blacks shoot police officers in self defense, claiming their lives were in danger. This will be a challenge for the police but should ultimately lead to more dialogue and less shooting. In any case, we cannot restrict gun ownership for some while others can own unlimited weapons. And if, as some claim, the NRA was formed to supply blacks with guns to defend themselves from Southern racist threats, this is an opportunity to reinstate that noble cause."

I started this letter the day before the deaths of the five police officers in Dallas, but that horrendous crime does not change the message I had in mind: chiefs of police should be held accountable for the performance of their officers and lose their jobs when they fail to hold their police officers accountable for their actions.

To this end a rigorous standards and training program could be created by national police organizations with input from the FBI, Special Forces and Navy Seal programs and from other countries. A program establishing highly trained, professional police officers across the nation, in large and small municipalities, could lead to greater respect for the police and in turn their respect for the people they are sworn to serve and protect. Such a voluntary program could set a standard of certification that police departments would aspire to adopt to show merit in their performance, pride in their officers and respect for their accomplished chief of police.

Then, let's work together to make guns safer for all of us.

Richard Mason, South Lee


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