Courtesy of Ben Schumin
Courtesy of Ben Schumin

Over the past several weeks, the family and friends of 31-year-old Terrence Sterling have continued to protest near the street in Northwest where he lost his life at the hands of D.C. police officers.

Reports indicate that the young man had been riding on his motorcycle in an erratic manner. They say they pursued him and that he attempted to escape by ramming his motorcycle into a police cruiser. They say they felt threatened and so they opened fire on the unarmed man, ending his life in a furry of bullets.

But one has to wonder, if the case is so cut and dry, why it’s taken so long for the police department to make videotaped recordings of the event available to the public. Meanwhile, as funeral services for Sterling were held last week, those who knew and loved him still seek answers to many questions.

One of the lingering issues in this and many other cases across the country is why law enforcement officials are not routinely turning on body cameras while on duty. Mayor Bowser and acting Chief Newsham have recently announced a new policy requiring officers to confirm with dispatchers that their cameras have been turned on. Unfortunately for Sterling, it’s too little too late.

The District underwent a series of conversations and considerations as it relates to body cameras. Officials said they would make sure the money was available to purchase these cameras and that the videotapes from any incidents would be made available to the public as needed.

Sounds good. But officers have to turn the cameras on too — each and every time.

At the same time, these body cameras, while an essential part to understanding what really happened, cannot serve as the remedy to an unprecedented rise in police-involved shootings of unarmed Blacks.

A change in attitudes and perspectives are at the core of the problem. And that’s going to take some real work. And that work must begin now.

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