There is a call for police to get out of minority communities, Edmond Police Chief Bob Ricks said Wednesday at an Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
No greater entity cares more for black lives than the police, Ricks said. Ambushes on police officers in the United States are up by 300 percent, he added.
“To me it’s a sad state of affairs,” Ricks said.
The NAACP reports that African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.
• African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
• Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26 percent of juvenile arrests, 44 percent of youth who are detained, 46 percent of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58 percent of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).
The national media portrays police as excessively locking up people for possession of drugs, Ricks said. However, the level of incarceration for the possession of drugs is dropping to the lowest percentage it has been in years, Ricks said.
Out of 26,539 inmates, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections estimates that 55 percent (14,625) of all offenders have a history of or current symptoms of a mental illness. ODC reports that 55 percent of incarcerated offenders with some form of mental illness have been convicted of only nonviolent offenses.
“The overwhelming majority of the people in prison are there for violent crimes,” Ricks said of state prisons.
Police departments have saved more black lives than any other entity in the United States, Ricks said.
“And we continue to move forward to protect them. But unfortunately the Black Lives Matter movement — it says we need to remove ourselves completely from the minority community.”
Ricks said Black Lives Matter is asking that police departments be defunded.
When the City of Ferguson, Mo., became a flashpoint for protests in November against the police killing an unarmed black teenager.
“When a car came by and did not see one of the demonstrators in the street and they got bumped, they pulled out their guns and started firing at the car. That to me is not a peaceful demonstration,” Ricks said.
Demonstrations are changing to a movement against the police itself regardless if a police officer who shoots a black individual is black or white, Ricks added, and officers being shot is up by 78 percent.
“On average, we as police have 50,000 assaults against us every year,” Ricks noted.
He pointed out the number of police officers killed in the United States has decreased due to bullet-proof vests.
“But what has occurred now recently has changed. We’re being attacked now by rifles. And those bullet-proof vests do not stop them,” Ricks said. “In Dallas they were attacked by rifles, Baton Rouge, (police) were attacked by rifles. It just goes right through a bullet-proof vest like a knife through warm butter.”
Ricks said there is an unnamed good Samaritan in Edmond who wants to buy vests that will stop rifle bullets for the Edmond Police.
“He says, ‘I am sick of seeing what is going on in America,’” Ricks said.
Murders in the 50 largest cities in the U.S. are up 17 percent in just the last year, Ricks said. Police are still responding to calls but they are not doing the proactive work because they fear being investigated, he said.
“Shootings are up 80 percent in Chicago,” Ricks said.
Guns are illegal in the City of Chicago.
Edmond is still one of the safest cities in the United States, Ricks said. But last year the city’s violent crime rate increased by 32 percent.
“What we’re seeing is a growing disrespect for law enforcement,” Ricks said. “We’ll have people that we stop in Edmond that cuss us, that refuse to roll their windows down, that will not cooperate or want to give us any form of identification.
“And at the same time, they’re taping us. That’s in Edmond, Oklahoma.”
A Pugh Research Survey recently stated that confidence in police is the lowest it has been in 20 years.
Nine out of 10 Americans demand that police wear body cameras.
“Is the body camera a solution? Not really,” Ricks said.
The camera may only get a visual reading on a car without proper positioning. Also, some body cameras give a 180-degree range, he said.
“Does the officer see that? Does he see something over here,” Ricks said. “He sees what’s in front of him.”
The camera makes the officer responsible for everything in it’s scope, Ricks said.
“It’s not a solution. We’re being forced down that path. I wish that we were not,” he said.