At The End Of The Day, We All Want Our Family To Come Home

Photo: courtesy of the author
At The End Of The Day, We All Want Our Family To Come Home

Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Philando Castile. George Floyd.

These names belong to just a handful of the many Black men who’ve been killed by police over the past couple of years.

Daniel Pantaleo. Darren Wilson. Jeronimo Yanez. Derek Chauvin.

These enraging names belong to the cops who’ve killed them.

Though these men and women sit on completely opposite sides of a couple of different spectrums, they all have one incredibly important thing in common: family.

As a biracial woman and sister to two police officers, I’ve been conflicted as of late.

My heart breaks every time I hear news of another Black citizen whose life was taken by those who swear to protect him. I think about the children, wives, mothers, fathers, and friends who’ve lost a major piece of their lives — who expect their father, husband, son, and friend to come home at night.

I watch videos posted by witnesses and wonder how anyone trained to protect and serve could be so quick to pull the trigger.

I learn that yet another officer is cleared of any wrongdoing and lose a little more faith in humanity.

But then I think of my brothers, who patrol a city that just recently held the title as the most dangerous in America. A city ravaged by gun violence, gang activity, and drugs, where even the presence of an innocent 8-year-old girl doesn’t stop people from starting a shootout, killing her in the process.

I expect them to come home at night, too.

We often think of police as these drones who walk the streets devoid of emotion or empathy.

Trust me, I'm guilty of this too, as what other explanation could there be for the ways we've seen these officers act?

But my brothers are 21 and 25. I’ve seen them laugh, cry, and everything in between. I’ve seen how nervous they were their first day of the police academy and how proud they were four short months later at the academy graduation. Still the same 21- and 25-year-olds, only now with guns at their hips.

And therein lies the problem: four very short months of training is all it takes in this country to become a police officer. By-and-large, that training is not focused on de-escalation and community policing, but on tactics meant to ensure officers make it home at the end of their shifts.

I'm ashamed that our country has become one where police brutality is not just brushed aside, it's taught.

It doesn't — and shouldn't — have to be this way.

There is no excuse for kneeling on an unarmed man's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds as he pleads for his life, or for putting an unarmed 23-year-old man in a deadly carotid hold despite admitting he did nothing wrong (except, of course, be Black).

The policing system in America is very broken, and it's way past time for reform.

Until we can eliminate the current standards of fear-based training and police unions that protect corrupt and dangerous officers, all cops will inevitably become bad cops simply because they are trained that way.

Micki Spollen is a YourTango ​editor and entertainment news writer. She also runs the travel blog Where In The World Is My Drink.