Does Lack Of Police Transparency On Shootings Raise Stakes For Officers?


The case of an unarmed black grandfather killed in his driveway by a white South Carolina police officer has fueled demands for more transparency into cases where unarmed civilians are killed by police, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Police confirmed that North Augusta officer Justin Craven shot and killed Ernest Satterwhite in February, but have refused to release details. The lack of transparency into Satterwhite's death and Craven's culpability has raised hackles in the black community.

Tensions have intensified since the Aug. 9 police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., where unrest simmers as residents demand the arrest of the officer. The incidents cut to a stark fact of policing: That a real and sometimes perceived lack of transparency from police fuels distrust, which raises the stakes for officers on the beat. Given an increase in officers dying in ambush attacks, “I'm afraid it might become a default response for officers to have their guns drawn and maybe react a little more quickly,” says Thomas Aveni of the Police Policy Studies Council in Spofford, N.H. U.S. police shoot and kill 1,000 people a year, 1 in 4 of whom are unarmed, say Aveni and the FiveThirtyEight blog by Nate Silver.

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