Protestors shut down Highway I-94 on July 9 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Protestors shut down Highway I-94 on July 9 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets over the weekend nationwide after three days of fatal gun violence between African-American men and police. In the space of two days, two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota were killed by police. The shootings were caught on video and seen by millions. Then, a day later, a black war veteran killed five officers in a retaliatory sniper attack. Diane and a panel of guests discuss the latest on the shooting investigations, and look at continuing tensions over deadly police force against black Americans and the movement for justice.


  • Paul Butler Professor, Georgetown Law School
  • David Klinger Professor, department of criminology and criminal justice,University of Missouri, St Louis
  • Ronald Hosko President, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund; former Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division
  • Kimberly Kindy National reporter, The Washington Post; part of a Pultizer-prize winning team that developed a database on fatal police shootings
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates National correspondent, The Atlantic; author of "Between the World and Me"

Ta-Nehisi Coates On Changing Policing

Caller from Dallas: Hold Officers Accountable


  • 10:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Some police and history professors say this past weekend of violence and shootings echoes the protests and racial divisions of the 1960s and '70s. Here in the studio to talk about the fallout of the shootings in Dallas, Louisiana and Minnesota, Paul Butler of Georgetown University, Kimberly Kindy of The Washington Post, Ronald Hosko with the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

  • 10:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMAnd joining us from a studio here in Washington, Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic and from KWMU in St. Louis, David Klingor at the University of Missouri. I know you'll want to join the conversation. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And thank you all so much for being with us.

  • 10:08:02

    MR. PAUL BUTLERGreat to be here.

  • 10:08:03

    MR. RONALD HOSKOPleasure to be with you.

  • 10:08:04

    MS. KIMBERLY KINDYReally good to be here, thank you.

  • 10:08:04

    MR. DAVID KLINGERThanks for having me, Diane.

  • 10:08:06

    REHMThank you so much.

  • 10:08:07

    MR. TA-NEHISI COATESThanks for having me.

  • 10:08:07

    REHMKimberly Kindy, let me start with you. One of the questions I keep having after all this devastation that's gone on this last week is why the use of a robotic bomb. Can you explain that? To take out the shooter who killed five police officers and wounded many others?

  • 10:08:40

    KINDYWell, what the police chief said was that every way in which they looked at going in to try to apprehend him would've put additional officers at risk. There was no way to go in and try to get him without exposing themselves to having additional officers shot and probably killed, given, you know, what he had just done moments before. So that's when they started talking about whether or not there was some other way to handle the situation.

  • 10:09:18

    KINDYAnd I'm sure we have reporters that are looking in more depth into the use of the robot and the decision-making behind it. But at this point, that's what the chief has said, that additional lives, additional officer's lives would've potentially been taken had they not used the robot.

  • 10:09:35

    REHMDo we know how long they attempted to negotiate with the shooter?

  • 10:09:42

    KINDYYou know, I believe it was for at least an hour and so there had been long conversations that had been going on with him. He was singing. He was laughing. He sounded very delusional. The conversations were going back and forth and they weren't making any progress in terms of him voluntarily surrendering.

  • 10:10:08

    REHMAll right. And turning to you, Paul Butler, been a devastating few days. I wonder about your overall reaction.

  • 10:10:22

    BUTLERSo last week started with horrific images of two African-American men doing everything the police told them to do and still being shot dead at point blank range. And none of this is new. African-Americans have never received equal justice under the law and police have rarely been held accountable. And then, at the end of the week, we saw a mad man target police officers and another episode of gun violence. This time, not state-sponsored gun violence, but by a person who's mentally ill.

  • 10:10:54

    BUTLEROf course, we saw the same thing just a few weeks earlier, the Latino and LGBT communities were targeted in Orlando. Years before, first graders targeted in Sandy Hook. So, Diane, if this moment doesn't lead us to change, I don't know what will.

  • 10:11:12

    REHMTa-Nehisi Coates, do you have an expectation that these moments will lead us to change?

  • 10:11:22

    COATESNo, no, not in the near time. It's possible that a series of moments, you know, endured over a period of years may lead to some sort of long term change over a period of time, but I don't think there's much to be done in the near term because I think in most people's minds, this is an issue of policing. The idea is if we can only train our police to do certain things, if we can get our police to, you know, respect the African-American community to deal with folks with respect, which is all, you know, good. I'm not sort of against any of that.

  • 10:11:55

    COATESBut I think the deeper question is one that we never get to and that is why is it that the police, that the arm of law enforcement is out major way of dealing with issues within the African-American community? Why are the police there in the first place? And that's a question for the broader society. The police are a hammer, you know. When you have police going in and dealing with problems that should be dealt with mental officials, should be dealt with by social workers, should be, could be more credibly dealt with by other arms of the law.

  • 10:12:27

    COATESThe fact that this is the result, you know, and I'm speaking about the long, you know, I guess past two or three years of publicity of me saying -- it can't be surprising. When you send people with guns in to deal with, you know, what really is a social problem, that's going to go awry from time to time. So until we make a deeper change and decide that, you know, we're going to have a different policy approach to African-American communities beyond merely crime-fighting, this is going to continue to happen.

  • 10:12:55

    REHMDavid Klingor, how do you see it?

  • 10:12:59

    KLINGERFirst of all, I need to take exception to something that Professor Butler said. The suspect in Baton Rouge was clearly resisting arrest. That doesn't mean that the level of resistance justified the use of deadly force. We don't know that. But the bigger issue that Mr. Coates is talking about, I tend to agree with him in the broad sense that what we've got is something that we're going to have to do an awful lot of work on to try to figure out some way through and some way past. I'm about as dispirited as I've ever been about the state of police community affairs.

  • 10:13:36

    KLINGERAnd there are many things on both side of coin, both sides of the divide that can be done, but the police do need to step up and prove training and prove selection, so on and so forth. I have some ideas about what might be done in terms of changing police culture so that's more responsive to situations. And interestingly enough, I just read in the New York Times today some work by a Harvard Economist, Ronald Fryer (sic) , about racial disparities and how police officers interact with American citizens.

  • 10:14:10

    KLINGERAnd it suggests that deadly force is not the fulcrum upon which the disparities rest, but rather it is lesser forms of force and the common indignities. And this is one of the things that police can do a much better job of and do rather quickly in terms of making sure that officers treat people with respect and dignity, even in those vast, vast majority of situations where no force is used and certainly in those situations where some force is used.

  • 10:14:38

    REHMAnd to you, Ronald Hosko.

  • 10:14:40

    HOSKOWell, I agree with Professor Klingor, first, and I will voice my dissent with Professor Butler's views on what these videos showed. But if we are not looking at this problem that we have, holistically, we're failing. And we are not looking at it holistically. If you look at encounters between the police and the African-American community and others, too often, the police, which are, you know, a piece of critical infrastructure, they're dealing with an issue where parenting has failed, where education has failed, where the economy has failed, where neighborhoods have failed, where religion has failed, where government and healthcare have failed.

  • 10:15:32

    HOSKOSo the police are dealing -- the first responders to issues of mental health and what's our resolution? It's not to find effective mental health treatment and manage those who are victim of mental health challenges humanely. It is we lock them up and so we have the jails that are far overflowing with folks who have mental health issues. We have broad issues. The police is one piece of it.

  • 10:16:01

    REHMAnd to you, Kimberly Kindy. These videos that we are seeing, do they help us to understand what's really happening in each case? Already, you've had disagreement in the Baton Rouge case here this morning and I'm sure that's happening all over the country.

  • 10:16:30

    KINDYWell, yes. I think what's happening here is the exact disconnect that's happening all across America. What one person sees as excessive force, because Mr. Sterling was pinned to the ground at the time in which he was shot and killed, most of America looks at that and says, I want a police force that once they subdue somebody, will take them into custody, not shoot them and kill them while they're pinned to the ground. But we continue to hear from law enforcement saying, he was resisting arrest.

  • 10:17:07

    KINDYAnd I've covered enough of these and read enough post-shooting reports to know what the narrative generally reads. And it generally is, was resisting arrest, the officer feared for his life and, you know, fatal force was used and because there is such a huge disconnect between what Americans believe should be appropriate use of force and what the Supreme Court allows, we continue to have this problem where we have one part of America saying this is wrong, it shouldn't be legal, and law enforcement telling us, yes, it is and the courts telling us, yes, it is.

  • 10:17:46

    KINDYAnd until those two things get rectified, we're going to keep having this conversation.

  • 10:17:51

    REHMKimberly Kindy, national reporter for The Washington Post. She was part of a Pulitzer Prizewinning team that developed a database of shootings by police. Short break. We'll be right back.

  • 10:20:01

    REHMI must say there's so many questions that remain about all of the shootings. Here's an email from Kevin. Unemployment in the black community is a huge problem. Was Micah Johnson, the Dallas shooter, unemployed? If so, for how long? Were there other money problems? Did he suffer from PTSD? Was this, in fact, suicide by police?

  • 10:20:35

    REHMAnother tweet from Ted, who says I think Baton Rouge officers were there because they were called to the scene as the guy was menacing people with a gun. Is that correct or not, Kimberly?

  • 10:20:55

    KINDYWell, we were -- you know, we were just talking about how you get a -- you get part of a video, and you don't get every single perspective when these incidents happen. And so I appreciate that sometimes we don't -- when we see a video, we think we know what happened, and we're not getting every perspective, and it doesn't necessarily capture all of the shooting. So it is very difficult to make judgment calls. I think it just draws attention to the fact that use of force and the way that Americans think use of force should look like often does not look like what we see when there are videos.

  • 10:21:35

    REHMTa-Nehisi Coates?

  • 10:21:39

    COATESWell again, you know, I think you have to, you know, draw this back. I mean, we start at the moment where the gentleman is tackled and, you know, ends up being shot. But, you know, as I understand this story, and, you know, Kimberly can correct me here, but as I understand the story, there was a homeless gentleman who had asked him for money, I mean repeatedly or vigorously. He took offense to that.

  • 10:21:58

    COATESHe had a gun on him, which I believe was legal, as I understand, under Louisiana law, he had a gun on him. He told the gentleman, you know, basically leave me alone and, you know, kind of menaced him with the gun. The gentleman then called 911, the police came, and then you, you know, sort of have a controversy. But see, I think you really have to draw this back and ask yourself do you want a society where people are walking around with guns like that, I mean even legally.

  • 10:22:23

    COATESYou know, and so I think, like, you know, the police are called in, and so we're asking questions about how this was dealt with, you know, but part of this is the society that we made. We made decisions as a democracy, in advance, that made that situation possible. And so when you begin reform, at the moment the police show up, you really aren't dealing with reform. You know, you're papering it over. You're sort of, you know, dealing with the outskirts of the challenge.

  • 10:22:47

    COATESBut in almost every case, you know, I've seen, we have one of these horrible videos coming out. There's usually some sort of societal failing that preceded it, and we're using, you know, police to deal with it. You know, I heard the gentleman earlier saying, you know, police are first responders, you know, for instance when we have, you know, mental health issues. That is a disaster. That should shame us all. The police are your first responders, you know, for mental health issues. That isn't so much -- or isn't just strictly, you know, a police failing, that's a failing of us.

  • 10:23:16

    COATESAnd so I think, you know, in, you know, a lot of these situations, we're pushing off, you know, blame, you know, for decisions that we've made as a democracy.

  • 10:23:24

    REHMDavid Klinger, how do you respond?

  • 10:23:28

    KLINGERI fundamentally agree with the superstructure that leads to the particular problems, and the way that our society has dealt with mental health issues is really bad, and I agree 100 percent that when the cops are really not just the first response but the only community response to these types of situations, and obviously Mr. Coates is talking about something beyond the two situations that led to the controversy last week, but that is not unusual, where police officers respond to someone who has a mental health crisis of some sort, and things escalate. And we definitely need to figure out better ways.

  • 10:24:10

    KLINGERIn the meantime, police can handle some of these situations better, but we definitely need to have some sort of structural reform, and there are models out there in terms of putting community mental health workers out with police, and why you would want to do that is unfortunately sometimes people in mental health crises are in fact dangerous. So the police need to be around, but they shouldn't always be the leader.

  • 10:24:32

    REHMAll right, putting aside for just one moment the issue of mental health, the individual in Baton Rouge who was being, if I can say this, harassed by someone who wanted money from him, he was carrying a legal gun. Is that not correct, Paul Butler?

  • 10:24:58

    BUTLERHe was, and he was tackled by the police. So part of this is about training. There are no national standards for who can be a police officer, what it takes to be qualified, what it takes to learn how do your job, what it takes about -- for emotional, physical, mental competency. And so when we look at what happened in Baton Rouge, any cop learns the first day of the academy, if you get a call for someone who has a gun, you don't run up, like these officers did, knowingly expose yourself to gunfire and then use that as an excuse to gun the person down. That's just poor policing.

  • 10:25:39

    BUTLERWe saw the same thing with the 14-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, in Cleveland, exact same thing, call for guy with gun, police run up, expose themselves and then shoot the boy down. That's just wrong, and it's not only wrong, it's something that happens disproportionately in African-American communities. So we can't divorce these -- this conduct from police with concerns about their bias, their prejudice and their fear against African-American people.

  • 10:26:09

    REHMSo one police officer, after tackling the individual in Baton Rouge, said, Ronald Hosko, that this man had a gun. Do we ever see the gun?

  • 10:26:25

    HOSKOWell, that's the problem with these videos. We are all looking to fill the gap here. Off the mic, we started to fill the gap, or I challenged some of the gap filling in this conversation on both videos. First, none of us has seen the video part of the officer in St. Paul actually commanding the passenger and shooting him. To my knowledge, that part of the video isn't out. So we don't know what happened before the actual fatal encounter.

  • 10:26:59

    HOSKOIn the Baton Rouge encounter, the professor just suggested to us that the subject of that case had a legal weapon. First, I don't think that's accurate. Secondly, it changes the situation if, as I'm being told, he had a lengthy criminal record and had no right to possess a weapon. That changes the dynamic. So if you have someone who is on probation, who is prohibited from carrying a weapon, now in his mind if I -- if I am caught with that weapon, I'm going to go back to jail.

  • 10:27:37

    REHMBut how did they know before they even get there that he's got a lengthy criminal record?

  • 10:27:42

    BUTLERThey don't know that. They don't know that.

  • 10:27:43

    REHMOf course.

  • 10:27:43

    BUTLERBut he knows that, and he may know that if he's caught with a gun, he's going to go back to jail.

  • 10:27:49

    REHMBut you're suggesting that he threatened the police.

  • 10:27:53

    HOSKOI'm suggesting that his state of mind is relevant to his actions. I'm also suggesting that we see a part of the encounter with the videos that we've been presented, not the entire encounter.

  • 10:28:04


  • 10:28:07

    KINDYWell, you know, I agree with what Paul is saying. What -- it's not the ACLU or reporters that are saying this. These are police chiefs across the nation who I've spoken to for the past two years of being on a project looking at police shootings. They say that there are too many encounters where officers rush in and create a volatile situation instead of standing back, taking cover, waiting for backup and peacefully bringing people in.

  • 10:28:39

    KINDYCan that happen every single time? It can't, but our own database shows that 25 percent of the time, you're dealing with somebody with a mental illness. All the police chiefs who are -- and all of the police training experts would say the last thing that you do is you rush in when you have somebody who's mentally ill and start barking orders of them, yet we continue to see that on video.

  • 10:29:05

    KINDYIn December, Mario Woods was shot and killed in San Francisco, and he was homeless, mentally ill. Yes, he had a knife, but it was down at his side. At least five officers were surrounding him. And as he shuffled down the street, and officer pushed his way in front of him, got within three or four feet of him and started shooting him. That is not the -- those are not the kind of tactics that police chiefs and progressive training academies are teaching officers to use.

  • 10:29:37

    KINDYYes, we have tremendous societal problems, and we definitely need to do something about that so officers aren't first responders, but when they are first responders, there are other tactics and procedures they can use, aside from rushing in and barking orders and tackling people and shooting them.

  • 10:29:57

    REHMTa-Nehisi Coates, are we back in the era of the '60s and '70s?

  • 10:30:04

    COATESNo, no, no.

  • 10:30:04

    REHMHave we moved backwards?

  • 10:30:07

    COATESDefinitely not, definitely not, not at all, not at all. But I mean, that should offer us little comfort. You know, the '60s and the '70s, you know, in terms of, you know, policing, in terms of, you know, what was going on in those neighborhoods, was an absolute catastrophe. You know, and the fact that, you know, we aren't there anymore and that we've made, you know, some progress, I mean, that should offer us little to no comfort except to say, you know, to understand that progress is possible, you know.

  • 10:30:32

    COATESBut, you know, if you stabbed me, and I'm bleeding, you know, the fact that, you know, I've stopped bleeding doesn't mean that, you know, I'm not going to have to deal with, you know, a severe bit of recovery on the way back. You know, it doesn't mean that everything's okay. And so no, it's not the '60s or the '70s, but, you know, as I said, we should take little comfort from that.

  • 10:30:51

    REHMAll right, and David Klinger, you were talking about a piece in the New York Times that does look forward and does present other ways to deal with these situations.

  • 10:31:08

    KLINGERWell, I think that to piggyback on what Kim was saying, sound police training, sound police doctrine that has been around literally for decades, basically hews to what she is talking about. And when I see some of these videos, particularly the one in San Francisco, I won't dissect it too deeply, but there were so many things that went wrong there, and that's part of what I'm talking about in terms of this culture shift so that line officers are held accountable, supervisors are held accountable, managers are held accountable and chiefs are held accountable for the tactical performance of their officers.

  • 10:31:47

    KLINGEROne of the problems is unfortunately that many police agencies don't give one lick to tactical acumen in terms of the criteria for promotion. So the people up and down the chain of command oftentimes don't know what they're doing, they don't know how to supervise, they don't know how to direct, and the line officers find themselves ill-prepared to deal with situations. And that has to stop. That has to change.

  • 10:32:10

    KLINGERIn terms of the question you raised about '60s and '70s, I hope that Mr. Coates is right. I hope that we're not on the precipice of a return to that. I have some grave concerns about the level of violence that has started to spike up in various places around the country, citizen-on-citizen violence and then violence against the police. And I'm hope -- I'm just going to hope that he's right, and I'm wrong, because I'm concerned that we could devolve.

  • 10:32:36

    REHMDo you share that concern, Kimberly?

  • 10:32:38

    KINDYWell, I can see why a lot of people would have that concern, and one of the concerns I have is that, you know, here's our second year of tracking fatal police shootings, and at the six-month mark, after a year of incredible focus on police reform, incredible focus on officers learning ways to de-escalate, we not only didn't see fatal shootings go down, we saw them go up.

  • 10:33:05

    KINDYAnd one of the big problems that we have right now as people are obviously feeling fatigue and frustration and are pushing back and demanding change, immediate change, is that we have 18,000 police departments in the nation, many of them with their own training academies, many of them with their own unions where every single change has to be negotiated before you can have a different change in policy or a different change in training.

  • 10:33:33

    KINDYSo what Paul was talking about in terms of having national standards, the federal government doesn't have the authority to set national standards. So you're waiting for every single department, all 18,000, one by one, to respond to this call for reform, and it's hard to get them to move in lockstep.

  • 10:33:52

    REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Going to open the phones. Let's go first to Chris in Dallas, Texas. You're on the air.

  • 10:34:05

    CHRISHi, Diane, thanks for taking my call.

  • 10:34:07


  • 10:34:08

    CHRISI really appreciate it. A couple of things. I was asked whether there's a mood in Dallas, and I will say on the citizens' perspective, it's still quite somber. It's interesting that folks are still, you know, we're still reeling from the shock. But people are getting back to normal. One of the things that always frustrates me when I hear a lot of pundits is that the ones who are pro-law enforcement very seldom, if ever, ever make the statement that perhaps the officers could have used better judgment.

  • 10:34:43

    CHRISWe never hear that, and that actually raises some frustration with folks. And it would be really nice -- not nice. It would be really helpful if folks would step back and hold officers as accountable as they hold African-American males for complying with the rules of engagement, and that just doesn't seem to happen, and we see folks getting frustrated and deciding to take things into their own hands. And so that's my comment on it.

  • 10:35:12

    CHRISOur local stations have done a great job of trying to show all aspects of the situation. It's been really refreshing here in Dallas.

  • 10:35:24

    REHMI'm glad. Thank you for calling. Ronald Hosko, what do you think about his comment that you never hear perhaps police officer used poor judgment.

  • 10:35:38

    HOSKOWell, I don't know that we never hear that. But I think some of his comments go to Kimberly's statements earlier. You know, for us to raise the game of police in America, it's not just a police issue, right. Police don't raise their own funds, they don't self-fund how many officers they can hire.

  • 10:35:59

    REHMNo, but you're not responding to his point that you don't hear the police chief come out and say maybe there was mistake in judgment.

  • 10:36:16

    HOSKOWell, I think that that needs to happen. If it's not getting out, then it should certainly happen. And we see criticisms by the chief of those mistakes in judgment because police chiefs fire officers all the time for mistakes in judgment, whether it's...

  • 10:36:32

    REHMThat's one thing. That's one thing, but to say it in public, to the community, I think would be very important.

  • 10:36:41

    HOSKOThat would shed some light on the issue, but first off, going back to my earlier point, first we ought to have an investigation to assess the judgment. The other piece of it is, that I was going to mention is, it takes municipalities to invest in a police department, to train them effectively, to lead them effectively, to build a culture within a police department that is respectful, that is a guardian mindset and a warrior mindset when you need it but principally a guardian mindset. That takes an investment in our police.

  • 10:37:16

    REHMRonald Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. he's a former Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. Short break here, we'll be right back.

  • 10:40:02

    REHMAnd welcome back. I want to return to the video that has gone viral in its drama and in its narration by a witness. And I'm talking about the officer who shot Philando Castile and how that has affected people. Paul Butler.

  • 10:40:39

    BUTLERI still can't watch it without crying. The little four-year-old girl in the back seat, who after seeing her mother's partner gunned down execution style, the mom is somehow calm enough to narrate it and then she just, as anyone would, loses it. And the little girl says, Mommy, I'm right here with you. It -- I just -- there's no words. And the thing is, this is not new. So African-Americans have had these complaints about unfair policing for decades. All the videos do is provide corroborating evidence. And so our community just isn't getting the same kind of service that other communities are.

  • 10:41:28

    BUTLERAnd, you know, I think part of it is a larger problem. But part of it is, we're not receiving value as taxpayers. You know, in the District of Columbia, we had a problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles for a long time. They -- you had to wait in line a long time when you went there. And the response wasn't, oh, we ought to support the employees. They have a tough job to do. The response was to come up with creative ways that those public servants could do their jobs more effectively.

  • 10:41:58

    BUTLERAnd, you know what? They did things. Now, if I want to go to the DMV, I can go online and see a video and -- of how long the wait is. So that's a creative, proactive response from the public servants about how to do their jobs more effectively. I think we should demand the same things from our police officers.

  • 10:42:16

    REHMAnd, Kimberly, during the break you were talking about teaching methods to help policemen back off instead of going forward.

  • 10:42:30

    KINDYYeah, I think one of the frustrations, again, and the big disconnect between Americans and police have to do with after these incidents, like with Tamir Rice, what we hear from police organizations is that, once the officer jumped out of the car and came face to face with someone who had what appeared to be a gun, he was legally justified in shooting to protect his life.

  • 10:42:54

    KINDYBut what Americans, I think, what to hear and what some people like David Klinger have pointed out, some police experts have pointed out, is that we need to start have -- after these incidents, we need to start having a conversation and we need to hear from police officials, police chiefs, police unions about the need in those specific instances for officers to be using different tactics so that that situation doesn't develop.

  • 10:43:21

    KINDYYou can make the argument that it was legally justified once he came face to face with an unknown suspect with what appeared to be a gun. But there were so many things that could have been done differently -- backing off, taking cover, waiting for backup -- that would have allowed them enough time to determine, oh, we're dealing with a 12-year-old with a toy gun. And it could have been an incident that that young man would have lived to tell as an older man and told his kid, be careful with toy guns.

  • 10:43:51

    KINDYBut Tamir is not going to be able to have that life and a lot of it has to do with, because, you know, because of the tactics that were used. And I think we just want to hear more conversations not only during those circumstances about using different tactics, but what kind of plan we can have so that we start to see police departments around the nation train their officers so they know how to do that.

  • 10:44:15

    REHMTa-Nehisi Coates, your own thoughts on training of not only younger but also older officers who've been on the beat and in the job for quite some time. They're now facing citizens who more and more have weapons of their own.

  • 10:44:42

    COATESIt sounds good to me. You know, I'm all for, you know, better training. If I could get better training on how to be a better journalist, I would take that too, you know. But I just, you know, and I hate to, Diane, I feel like I've been repeating myself since I came on the show, and I guess I feel like I've been repeating myself for the past few years, but I strongly, strongly feel, until the society decides to make different choices, until the society decides to invest in African-American communities in positive ways, until the society sees, you know, these moments, you know, whether you have a Tamir Rice, whether you have a LaQuan McDaniel (sic) gunned down -- you know, and the entire apparatus of a city basically covering for a murder...

  • 10:45:24

    COATES...until we can get past seeing the actual incident and understanding what you're actually seeing, is the end result of a long series of decisions that we've made, decisions that we've repeatedly made in this country for centuries, until we, you know, can make a decision to invest differently, to think differently about those communities, I just, I'm pessimistic in terms of long-term training. I think training is good. And I think training is part of it. I don't want to, you know, sound like I'm disagreeing with your guests because I'm certainly not.

  • 10:45:51

    COATESBut I think, along with that has to come a bigger conversation about how we use, you know, not just police but law enforcement period, law enforcement in general, how we use criminal justice, you know, to paper over problems. That, you know, we really don't have the patience or the interest to deal with it in other ways.

  • 10:46:09

    REHMDavid Klinger, you have first-hand experience in this. You're a former Los Angeles police officer who shot an African-American man. So with the data from the Washington Post showing that blacks are shot and killed by police at two-and-a-half times the rate of whites, what was your experience after you shot that black man?

  • 10:46:49

    KLINGERWell, first of all, I just think it's important that the viewers know that the guy that I shot, the last thing in my mind was his race. It was the fact that he'd stabbed my partner in the chest with a butcher knife, knocked him to the ground and was in the process of trying to drive it through his throat. I tried to take the knife away. That was not successful. So I ultimately had to shoot him. It was a very disturbing event. I was 23 years old. I went into law enforcement with the best of intentions. In fact, I had actually, during my college career went to Mississippi to get some training in community reconciliation from a black church and it was a Voice of Calvary. Studied under a guy named John Perkins. And so it was very disconcerting.

  • 10:47:32

    KLINGEROver time, I have come to understand that there was really nothing else I could do and made peace with my maker about it and have moved on with my life. And one of the things that I have tried to do is I have tried to use my experience as a point of instruction for other officers. I've gone on and I have conducted a good bit of research on the use of deadly force. I've interviewed about 300 cops who've been involved in shootings.

  • 10:47:56

    KLINGERAnd I think another thing that's important for your listeners to know is that the vast majority of times when officers have a lawful warrant to shoot, they don't shoot. People are shooting at them and they don't return fire. People are pointing guns and they don't shoot. People are reaching for guns, they're grabbing guns and officers are holding fire. I, myself, don't want to get into too much detail, but could have legally shot 10 people besides the individual I did shoot...

  • 10:48:20

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:48:21

    KLINGER...who were reaching for, pointing guns, so on and so forth.

  • 10:48:24

    REHMAll right. And that is...

  • 10:48:24

    KLINGERAnd so what I've tried to do -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

  • 10:48:27

    REHMThat is what leads me to an analysis by The Guardian newspaper in 2015, there were 55 fatal shootings by police in England and Wales in the last 24 years, compared to 990 people shot dead by the police in the U.S. And that is according to The Washington Post database. So are we back to with guns in every single person who wants them in those hands. Where do we go from here, in your view, Ronald Hosko?

  • 10:49:25

    HOSKOWell, England obviously is a far different society than ours, a far different culture than ours.

  • 10:49:30

    REHMOh, I don't think it's all that much different, not with all the immigrants coming in, not with all the various racial and ethnic variety there. I don't think you can say it's so much different, except for the fact that the police do not carry guns and the citizens are not permitted to carry guns.

  • 10:49:57

    HOSKOAnd there's a big distinction, right? I don't know how we go forward. First, I think we have to do what some folks are talking about today, what Jim Comey spoke about a year ago at Georgetown, where we have to start to see the world through the other person's eyes. And that is, more community policing -- having police -- having enough police to do community policing. In too many cities today, particularly where you have high crime rates in the inner cities, you have officers going from call to call to call, all emergencies.

  • 10:50:36

    HOSKOWe need to have enough depth and skill and training within the police departments so that I can have community engagement on a meaningful level, so I can have police walking a beat, encountering citizens, having face-to-face conversations instead of looking like an angry, occupying force just flying around the corners. So I have to enough. I have to have the training of those people. And I have to have -- I have to hire the right people so that they can see that there's another perspective, and that's the perspective of the person you're going to encounter.

  • 10:51:11

    REHMIndeed. Kimberly.

  • 10:51:13

    KINDYWell, I appreciate what you're talking about here, about more and more Americans arming themselves and whether or not that's going to create greater and greater dangers as they encounter police. But one thing that I would point out in our database is that only 10 percent of the people who ended up being fatally shot and killed last year and so far this year were actually armed. There's -- there is a great fear with the police of -- that the person that they have encountered may be armed. And as that fear continues to grow, there is concern that we're going to see more and more unarmed people being shot and killed.

  • 10:51:56

    KINDYI can't even count how many police reports I have read where the police officer said that the person they encountered made a furtive movement toward their waistband. That is code for, I thought they were trying to get a gun and so I shot them. And you can see the fear in these videos of the officers. They are trained in the academies, first and foremost, your first job is to go home at night. And it is drilled into them that people are after them. And I can understand that this is an incredibly dangerous job. Our own database shows that a quarter of the people that these police encounter, who they fatally shoot, they were being shot at. This is a very dangerous, dangerous job.

  • 10:52:46

    KINDYI think we're all talking about those preventable shootings...

  • 10:52:48


  • 10:52:49

    KINDY...those preventable times in which use of force is used. And as guns continue to grow, not only with that create potentially more fatal shootings, but a greater fear. If training and attitudes and more community policing doesn't happen, that officers are going to, every time he encounters someone, they're going to fear that they have a gun, even though they don't.

  • 10:53:13

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show."

  • 10:53:21

    BUTLERA lot of the fear is about race. So when we saw the tragedy in Baton Rouge, with the woman -- in Minnesota, I'm sorry, with the woman narrating what was going on when her partner was being killed, at the same time she had to call the officer sir. Because she knew, if she didn't communicate that, she might wind up dead. And so, again, there's a whole history here that's connected with race.

  • 10:53:45

    BUTLERAttorney General Loretta Lynch is requiring all federal law enforcement officers to undergo bias training. The idea is, we're not born with prejudice. Police officers aren't born being afraid of African-American people. That's something that's learned that can also be unlearned. And if their bias and prejudice doesn't completely go away, maybe their training can help them not deploy that in these situations in which African-American men and women and children are at risk.

  • 10:54:14

    REHMAnd this is something you raised earlier, Paul, and I'll put to David Klinger an email from Rob. Are there required psychological testing for police officers and a series of ongoing teaching modules that include de-escalation strategies?

  • 10:54:41

    KLINGERIs that for me?

  • 10:54:42

    REHMYes, that's for you, David Klinger.

  • 10:54:43

    KLINGERYes. There -- most police agencies that I'm aware of do have psychological screening. Not all of them do. In terms of the ongoing training, once again, unfortunately it is uneven. Sound police agencies do include de-escalation training. And one of the things that I'm a little bit befuddled about is that this is somehow, in some people's minds, something that's new.

  • 10:55:06

    KLINGERIt's something that I was steeped in as a young police officer 35 years ago. And it is something that is out there. It is something that sound police agencies have been doing for literally decades, in terms of teaching officers not to get as close, teaching officers to use sound verbal tactics. Something as simple as, if two officers are present, only one officer gives a verbal command, so that the individual that the officers are talking with only hears one set of commands rather than perhaps conflicting commands.

  • 10:55:33


  • 10:55:34

    KLINGEROne officer says, hands up. The other officer says, don't move. What are you do to?

  • 10:55:38

    REHMAnd, finally, a tweet from Joshua. The Baton Rouge Police Department is 70 percent white. Percentages should be changed to recruit minorities. And white cops should partner with them. Any cop who won't should be fired. How do you feel about that, Ron Hosko?

  • 10:56:05

    HOSKOOh, I think increasing diversity in law enforcement is critical. I know my former organization, after the director made the Georgetown speech, there was an article about the FBI falling short. And I tell you, the FBI makes dedicated efforts to broaden diversity in its agent ranks, in its employee ranks. To have a diverse organization that comes close to matching your community I think is critical to success.

  • 10:56:35

    REHMAnd, finally, Ta-Nehisi Coates, I think what you said at the beginning, what you said in the middle, all makes sense. But it's going to take a long time.

  • 10:56:50

    COATESYeah, I know it will. But I don't even see that broader conversation even beginning. We aren't even at the beginning of that long period. Instead, we, you know, it is as though, you know, we're analyzing a football game and we're stuck analyzing everything that happened in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. We're ignoring everything that happened in the football game before that. In that way, it's really, really dispiriting. I mean, just to take the question about…

  • 10:57:17

    REHMWe're going to have to leave it there, Ta-Nehisi.

  • 10:57:18

    COATESI'm sorry. Go ahead.

  • 10:57:20

    REHMI'm so sorry. Ta-Nehisi Coates, he's the author of "Between the World and Me." David Klinger at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Paul Butler, Kimberly Kindy, Ronald Hosko, thank you all so much.

  • 10:57:41

    BUTLERIt's great to be here.

  • 10:57:41

    KINDYThank you.

  • 10:57:42

    REHMThank you. And thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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