At last week’s 4th District Candidate Forum hosted by WVCE in Richmond, both my opponent and I were asked about the recent rash of police shootings and what could be done to prevent them and bring communities together. My opponent is now attempting to twist my answer out of context in order to drive further wedges between us as a community. This is an issue too important for political games.
Let’s examine the statistics as maintained by the Washington Post Police Shooting Database, which tracks these statistics yearly. Since January 2015 there have been 1,774 incidents where an officer has had to take a life in the line of duty. 1,168 or 65% have been incidents where the officer or another person were under attack from the suspect. Of those shot while attacking the officer or other victim, 85% were utilizing some form of weapon, which could cause bodily harm.
Perhaps the most disturbing fact surrounding these officer involved shootings is that our leaders refuse to do anything to address the underlying causes for a large number of these incidents: mental health and substance abuse. In my jail, and in the majority of local jails across the nation, 80% of the inmates have a substance abuse issue and 30% suffer from a mental health problem. These are issues I have dealt with first hand on a daily basis, and they’re issues that desperately need attention in Washington.
At our debate Thursday, I agreed with my opponent that there are cases where the officer was at fault. I pointed to the fact that the majority of those who died as a result of an officer involved shooting were on their way to jail already, as the very nature of the situation that resulted in the officer discharging his firearm would have led to this outcome. I point this out to demonstrate the need to stop with the divisive rhetoric and to focus on the underlying causes – mental health and substance abuse.
These are two issues that are wrecking our families and destroying our communities. I have released a detailed plan on how we deal with these issues. I call on Donald McEachin to stop with the political games and put forward a serious plan as well. The voters of the 4th District deserve no less.