When Police Officers Kill, Cities Face Tough Strategic Decisions

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The Washington Post examines some of the nettling questions that city leaders now routinely face when protests follow controversial police shootings: Do you release video footage of the confrontation? Do you deploy officers in riot gear? Do you call in the National Guard? This is their new new reality when a tragically common occurence — the shooting of a black man by police — has the potential to unleash chaos upon their communities, in which the wrong decision can set a city afire. Charlotte is now struggling through those decisions, drawing on painful lessons learned in places such as Ferguson, Mo., Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Chicago and Minneapolis. But even now — more than two years after riots in Ferguson rocked the nation, after countless after-action reports, investigations and panel discussions by mayors who have weathered their own cities’ protests — it remains ­extraordinarily difficult to ­de-escalate public anger when police shoot and kill another black man.

In Charlotte, officials have declined to release police video of Tuesday’s fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. In stark contrast, officials in Tulsa this week waited just two days before releasing multiple videos and recordings documenting the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old black man in that city. (Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the case on Thursday.) “It was something that we talked about over the years, that if something of this magnitude were to happen, being transparent, giving out information as quickly and as complete as possible,” Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett told the media. “We don’t want to be perceived as trying to cover something up.” Other cities have also have quickly released videos of officer-involved shootings in an effort to avoid becoming the next Ferguson.

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  1. Pingback: When Police Officers Kill, Cities Face Tough Strategic Decisions | Darlington Jordan Law Firm

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