Larry Elder

Only 42 percent of LAPD's sworn employees are white. Urban blacks know they are twice as likely to be victims of violence as whites. As a result, most blacks support their local police. Indeed, many urge them to become more "proactive."

In Cincinnati, from 1995 to 2001, the police killed 15 black men. Of the shootings, seven of the black men pointed, shot or struggled over a gun with the police, three threatened them with other instruments, one attempted to run down police with a car, and one officer was dragged 800 feet by a car and died. That leaves three police shootings arguably questionable. In all three cases, the officers involved were acquitted or cleared of wrongdoing.

In comes the then-president of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, who called Cincinnati "ground zero" for race relations: "Cincinnati's a microcosm, the belly of the whale. It's important for the nation to focus here on ground zero. If we can fix it here, we can fix it elsewhere. But if it doesn't get fixed here, it turns into anarchy and all of us are left wondering, 'Is justice blind?'" As a result, the Cincinnati cops simply pulled back, became less proactive, more passive. This, after all, reduces the number of encounters with citizens, decreasing the likelihood that a Kweisi Mfume may charge some cop with police brutality. So this troubled area of Cincinnati known as Over-the-Rhine saw, within months, an increase in crime.

But what about the alleged racist criminal justice system? Many studies debunk the idea of institutionalized "bias" against black criminal defendants. The U.S. Justice Department releases surveys tracking prosecution and sentencing by race -- and finds that black defendants are prosecuted, convicted and sentenced at rates slightly less than, or the same as, similarly charged white defendants.

Recall Montgomery County Chief Charles Moose? He received fame for his work in helping to capture the D.C. snipers. ABC News did a Person of the Week profile on him. It turns out that Moose intended to become a criminal defense attorney, but chose to become a cop first so that he could learn from the inside how cops plant evidence to falsely convict innocent defendants. "Because, as an African-American male in America in 1975," said Moose, "I really didn't like the police. I was pretty sure the police made up the things that they did so that they could be mean and -- to African-Americans in particular." He decided to remain in law enforcement, however, when he discovered that cops rarely engaged in such illegal conduct.

But, then, maybe he didn't see "Crash."


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.


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