When Terence Crutcher was fatally shot, I remember hearing the news on Facebook and thinking “not again.” News like that just really saddens me, and everyone starts to make assumptions and you can’t tell what actually happened versus what people are saying happened. From the perspective of the Tulsa Police Department, this is a disaster waiting to happen. However, the transparency of the department was one of the highlighting things that they did well in the wake of the shooting.
I believe strongly in the transparency of our police departments, for a couple of reasons. First, it holds the department to a standard the public decides on. Police departments are here to serve and protect us, and those they serve and protect are going to be the main people that judge them and see their actions for what they are. Second, and most importantly, it inspires a sense of accountability. If you know that your actions are going to be review and scrutinized, hopefully you will think through your actions a bit more.
Now, a lot of people bring up the argument that you have no time to think in certain situations, and I understand that. However, this reason is why officers undergo the training they do, so that they can make these extremely important decisions on instinct rather than active thought. Accountability would make it much harder to abuse power. If you know that someone might possibly see your actions, hopefully you decide not to take that course of action.
This transparency from the Tulsa Police Department is what I would call a very high standard for other departments to look at. They handled the situation incredibly well, and this is the reason why instead of having riots, parts of Tulsa came together and united. There was no need for the entire speculation of not knowing exactly what happened, or saying “We don’t know what actually happened! How can we trust what the cop says?! They’re just trying to cover themselves.”
No, instead, TPD came forward and admitted that something drastic had happened, and wanted the public to watch the videos, and understand the facts for themselves, instead of letting a swirl of rumors and speculation get out of control. As a result, we saw a community come together, peaceful protests and gatherings, and no rioting or the need to declare martial law.
Now, could they have handled it better? I’m sure they could, though I don’t know how. There is almost always a better way to handle situations, and no one really prepares for something like this to happen. It’s a tragic and incredibly sensitive event, and there is never a perfect way. People will be upset regardless as they mourn over the loss of a loved one. Look at the recent Charlotte shooting. The Charlotte Police Department did not release the video in a timely manner, and left it up to speculation and rumor. That speculation led to the general public creating an uprising and rioting. Nevertheless, other departments could take a lesson or two from Tulsa on handling such sensitive and tragic events.