**Editor’s Note: The following was written entirely by a Dallas Police Officer that reached out to me. With the exception of minor formatting, no modification was done to this letter.
I’m a Dallas police officer. For reasons related to the safety of my family, I must withhold my name. I knew Sgt. Mike Smith who was executed in cold blood by a racist cop-hater in Dallas on July 7, 2016. He was the final officer killed that night. I didn’t know the other 4 officers that were murdered on a personal level but I shared a bond with them all the same. The day after the shooting I reported for duty with a heavy heart and very little sleep. Little did I know I’d be assigned my toughest task yet: escorting the widow and daughters of Mike Smith to the funeral home so they could make arrangements for his funeral.
The support the family received was overwhelming. Lots of food and donations were brought by. My partner that day spoke to Mike’s widow Heidi and just tried to tell stories to take her mind off of things for a while. It worked for a time, Heidi laughed as she shared stories about Mike being ultra competitive at ping pong. Victoria, their oldest daughter, who must be at least 6’3″, talked to us about volleyball which she excels at. Caroline, their youngest daughter, played a game of tennis on the Nintendo Wii. But the distractions couldn’t last forever. Eventually, the conversation stopped with an awkward silence, and with eyes fixed on the floor that cold reminder crept it’s way back in: Mike was dead, and there was no changing that.
I write this open letter to evangelicals because the overall temperature leading up to this shooting has been one of anti-police nonsense. It’s been a rhetoric that was born of a lie with Hands Up Don’t Shoot and has never attempted to find the truth since. This idea that there’s a major, widespread, systemic injustice towards the black community from police officers has been accepted as if it’s as true as the gospel of Jesus Christ itself. It has been canonized so to speak, and any who dare to challenge the assertion is automatically labeled a racist, a bigot, or simply can’t see past their own “white privilege.” There has been no objectivity, there has been no actual fact finding, and in the case of Michael Brown there has no been no apology from evangelicals for their hasty rush to judgment. Not only has there been no apology, but apparently nothing was learned from their premature conclusions that the officer Darren Wilson was unjustified because they continue to do the same thing today.
I’ll show you a few examples of just what I’m talking about, these were all sent before the shooting in Dallas and were in reference to the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Albert Mohler, President of Southern Theological Seminary, tweeted this:
Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said,
“How can anyone deny, after seeing the sheer number of cases, that there is a problem in terms of safety of African Americans before the law?”
Thabiti Anyabwile, who writes for The Gospel Coalition, tweeted,
“There can be no ear given to soothingly deceitful voices whispering, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace. Judgment is coming on this land. And oh, what a terrible day of judgment it will be when an account is given for the Black lives brutalized, marginalized and stolen in the US!”
Daniel L. Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said
“I do understand why my black friends who are male get nervous every time they go out. They cannot help but wonder will I make it back home.”
Brian Key, writing for the Reformed African-American Network, wrote this in regards to Alton Sterling
“Cry out against the murder of another image-bearer. Cry out against the injustice.”
Bryan Loritts, a lead pastor, said,
Leonce Crump, a lead pastor, said,
“Remember, and push others to remember. Don’t oblige political rhetoric, outdated stats, & other crap people use to justify these killings.”
Derwin Gray, a lead pastor, said,
“The #AltonSterling video is nauseating. I’m really tired of this happening. You don’t deserve to die for selling CD’s”
I could go on and on with more examples. Are you catching the theme? Each and every one of these folks has already made up their minds that these shootings were unjustified. None of them has the full story and none of them have ever faced the dangers that a police officer faces every day that they lace their boots up. They’re not asking us to mourn with them. They’re asking us to join them in demonizing the officers in these shootings before all of the facts are in. And if we are to assume that the shootings were unjustified then the police officers must be racist, trigger-happy, oppressors, or some combination thereof. There’s just no other conclusion that I can come to.
Christians, is this the response that we should have? Ecclesiastes 7:9 would disagree, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” There is a time to cry out about injustice. And that time is NEVER before we can be sure an injustice has actually occurred.
Yes, the history of our nation has been wicked towards black men, women, and children. No one denies that. Yes, each and every person, whether they are a pastor, police officer or a gang member, whether they are white, black or brown bears the image of God, the Imago Dei. No one denies that. Yes, every loss of life is tragic, no matter the circumstances in which the life was lost. No one denies that. Yes, total depravity affects each and every one of us. No one denies that. And because no one denies these things, can we stop using them as red herrings and address the real issues at hand here?
Many of the same people I just quoted were quick to also condemn the subsequent murders of 5 police officers in Dallas. The fact that their very own hasty rhetoric and judgment contributes to the anger of those who would kill police is apparently lost on them. You can’t perpetuate a false narrative of widespread police racism and then in the next breath be shocked that someone believed it and sought to take vengeance. Of course, they’ll call the murder of police officers wrong, they just won’t say that the REASON was wrong. They’ll cry out for justice, for action, for something to be done, and then stand shocked when some depraved, racist cop-hater decides to take justice into their own hands. They’ll pour gallons of gasoline onto the pyre and then act appalled when someone finally strikes a match.
As believers, we are called to pursue, defend and stand in truth. Here are a few truths about police and racism. Before I get to them, please remember that I do not condone the broad brushing of any one group, race or profession. Each individual ought to be judged by their individual actions and choices (Ezekiel 18), that includes black men and women and police officers alike.
- Black people make up about 13% of the U.S. population. (source)
- Black people commit around 52% of all murders, around 40% of all violent crimes including 56% of robberies, 35% of aggravated assaults and 29% of property crimes. (source)
- Black people make up around 28% of arrests made by police in the U.S. which squares with crime victim surveys. (source)
- Black people make up around 25% of people shot by police, which is lower than their arrest numbers. (source)
- White people make up over 50% of people shot by police. (source)
- Black officers, who you would presume are not racist, kill black suspects at a rate 3.3 times that of white officers. (source)
- A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be killed by an officer. (source)
- 90% of black homicides are committed by other blacks. 4% of black homicides (justifiable or not) are committed by the police. (source)
- Black men, who are 6% of the population, are responsible for 40% of police officers killed in the line of duty. (source)
- Around 12 million people are arrested annually. 99.9965% of them are arrested without police using deadly force. (source, another source)
- In 2008, out of 53 million police/citizen contacts, there were 2,060 credible complaints of brutality (0.0039%) (source)
The truth is right there. There is no widespread systemic racism, brutality or genocide being committed by our nation’s police as a whole. Are there officers that are racist? Of course. Total depravity doesn’t exclude cops, no one has ever denied that. But the truth is that these controversial shootings like what you’ve seen with Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are an incredibly rare event. And even in these incredibly rare events it is reckless and slanderous to 1) assume the officer wasn’t justified before he’s even had a chance to tell his story and 2) to assume without evidence that the shooting was racially motivated even if you feel it was unjust.
So in closing this letter I implore you to seek the truth before you seek an agenda. To be fair instead of inflammatory. To be gracious instead of angry. To be objective instead of biased. To be evidential instead of anecdotal. You can still weep with those who weep without throwing police officers under the bus while doing so. And if, after all of the evidence has come in and has been rightly and fairly weighed, an officer is found guilty of wrongdoing, I will stand right there beside you and demand justice be done. Until then, they are presumed innocent. If our secular courts can show that measure of grace, can’t we as Christians?
Other Resources and Stats:
- Department of Justice Statistics, 1980-2008
- Summary of above statistics – Breitbart
- Harvard Study on Racial Crime Statistics and Police Shootings
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