Doug Baldwin calls for states to review police training

Shutdown Corner

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has added his voice to the growing chorus of players using their standing in the public eye to draw attention to police violence against black men. Baldwin offered cursory thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers (“We know there’s new coaches, new defense, scheme, blah blah”) and then lasered in on his point: to call for further training and education of police officers across the country.

Players have sought to stem the torrent of criticism of the protests through concrete action. Colin Kaepernick, with whom this entire movement began several weeks ago, has pledged to give $1 million to various charitable efforts, with the funding tracked on a website for transparency. Baldwin, for his part, offered up a linear analysis of how he views the problem, with evidence and proposed solutions.

Baldwin focused on Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy playing with a toy pistol in Cleveland when he was shot and killed by police in 2014. “This prompted a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which discovered, and I quote, that ‘officers did not effectively deescalate situations either because they did not know how or did not have adequate understanding of the importance of deescalation of encounters before resorting to force,’” he said. “This prompted the Ohio state attorney general to eventually call for review of police training policies.”

That, to Baldwin, is the heart of the issue: consistent and thorough training across the country to help prevent escalation of otherwise routine incidents into violence. “As an American black male in this country,” he said, “I’m suggesting, calling, I’m demanding that all 50 state attorney generals call for a review of their policies and training policies for police and law enforcement to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on deescalation tactics and crisis management measures.”

Baldwin took pains to clarify the scope of his argument. “This is not an indictment of our law enforcement agencies, I just want that to be clear,” he said. “We know that there’s a select few, a very minute few, of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies. However, we also know that there are laws and policies that are in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now.”

The Seahawks play Kaepernick’s 49ers on Sunday.

Here, via MyNorthwest, is Baldwin’s entire opening statement:

Obviously we know the national attention is on what’s going on in our communities and our society right now, specifically pertaining to black people, minorities, and how they’re being treated by some members of our law enforcement across the country. You’ve seen the protests, you’ve heard the message, and now I think it’s time for us to hold each other accountable. And when I say “hold each other accountable,” I mean to the preamble of the United States’ constitution, which states, and I quote, “In order to form a more perfect union, we must establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility.”

In 2014, Tamir Rice was shot and killed. This prompted a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which discovered, and I quote, that ‘officers did not effectively deescalate situations either because they did not know how or did not have adequate understanding of the importance of deescalation of encounters before resorting to force.’ This prompted the Ohio state attorney general to eventually call for review of police training policies.

This is not an isolated incident. This is not an isolated conversation. This is not isolated just to some specific parts of our country. We see that now, and the advancement of technology has proven that, from video of Rodney King in 1991 to numerous incidents that we now have visual evidence of today.

Now, this is not an indictment of our law enforcement agencies, I just want that to be clear. We know that there’s a select few, a very minute few, of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies. However, we also know that there are laws and policies that are in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now.

So, as an American black male in this country, I’m suggesting, calling, I’m demanding that all 50 state attorney generals call for a review of their policies and training policies for police and law enforcement to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on deescalation tactics and crisis management measures. With that being said, I believe that the greatest power we have is in our people, and with great power comes great responsibility. And I’ve said this before, and as Martin Luther King famously said, we must not become a culture or society that is more concerned with order than justice. I believe that if we become more concerned with order than justice, we lose both.

That’s where I stand. That’s my statement.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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