The shooting of Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of 4 (help her children here), is a terrifying disgrace. Lyles, 30, called the police because she was afraid of an intruder.
That’s why she had a knife when they approached.
There was no good reason for these officers to use deadly force. She had a knife. She was worried about the safety of her kids. She told them that when she called them.
Her death stains the Seattle Police Force.
My hope in the wake of Lyles murder, is that Seattle PD will prioritize de-escalation tactics when dealing with members of the public. As well as working on eradicating racial bias from their force.
While I found a lot of articles about how police forces need to know how to de-escalate, I found no companies listed who come into police forces and give them de-escalation training.
Is that really not a thing?
No wonder our police forces are staying violent. In fact, I found almost no information about de-escalation of ANY KIND of workplace conflict.
Look, in 1985, I got an entire workbook of sexual harassment homework because I held Jason Carona down to the ground and kissed him on the cheek.
I believe if my co-worker had shot a pregnant woman, possibly just because she was black, that I would expect my work to make all of us sit through a de-escalation seminar. And an anti-racism workshop AT THE VERY LEAST.
I couldn’t find any companies who offer it as a service. There was no “Call us, and we can make sure you shoot less People Of Color this year!!” commercial when I searched for “police de-escalation training”.
So, no training programs. No trainers. No personal gurus. There are a few articles about de-escalation, most of them are found in police-centric sites like LEADS, found on policecombat.com, or www.policemag.com’s De-Escalation Training or security magazine’s methods to de-escalate violent situations, or crisisprevention.com’s De-escalation tips. And maybe when we call Seattle PD and ask what they are doing to to make up for the death of Charleena Lyles (Help her newly orphaned kids here), they can proudly say “We’re making all of our officers read these articles about de-escalation, so that they won’t do it again.”
I read those articles. They talk about patience. But finding and stopping a burglar is not an activity that you should try to do slowly. So, how does that work?
These officers took about 15 seconds within rolling up to the call to shoot Charleena Lyles. I read the transcript (because I refuse to watch another murder video) Neither of them had a taser. Or a baton. Neither of them knew what she was saying. They just ran in and shot. The articles I read also all talked about communication. Figuring out who she was, and if she needed help probably would have saved her life. The officers didn’t do that. I’m assuming because they thought she was a crazy black woman with a knife. Not a mother defending her children from a burglar.
Which brings us to racial bias. I looked online for Institutions which fight racism, and can help you eradicate it from your workplace,
And there are several institutions that can unteach racial bias: Undoing Racism: The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond is a nationally recognized institution, which often does workshops in the Seattle area. So is The Anti-Racist Alliance.
Again, if I was under investigation for a possibly racist attack in the course of doing my job, I would hope that my employers try to fix the program with some re-training. And ignoring or debating the element of race in this will prevent us from solving this.
And solving this problem means keeping Black Men, Women and Children safe.
Not solving this means we will see more murders committed by our police.
I’d like to see my city of Seattle try to keep our black folks safe.