Most police officers are never involved in a shooting during their careers, but according to a new investigative report by NPR, officers who are involved in one shooting are often involved in multiple, and they rarely face consequences.
One such example exists close to home: An officer in Detroit who was involved in five shootings, two off duty and three on duty, during his 24 year career with the Detroit Police Department. One of those shootings was fatal. NPR’s Cheryl W Thompson reports that Jerold Blanding “also shot a pigeon and was investigated over assaults on police officers, improper conduct, harassment, excessive use of force, domestic violence and threats. Yet he kept his job.” Thompson’s report provides an in-depth investigation into fatal police shootings of unarmed Black people, which reveals troubling patterns.
Listen: NPR’s Cheryl Thompson talks about police shootings
Cheryl W. Thompson is an Investigative Correspondent for NPR. Her latest report details fatal police shooting of unarmed Black people, revealing troubling patterns, including here in Detroit. When discussing police officers’ actions, Thompson acknowledges that, more often than not, many officers behave responsibly. However, she notes that increased public scrutiny has called more attention to those officers who are perpetuating potentially avoidable violence in their communities. “I think most police departments and officers try to do the right thing, but things happen and the light is shining more on it, this has been going on for years, this is nothing new, but now it’s like… people are starting to pay attention,” says Thompson.
When she talks about her reporting on the shooting of unarmed Black Americans, Thompson says she “thought it was important to tell the stories of the shootings, but also the officers behind them.” Thompson also discusses the role of police unions in protecting officers who are carrying out violent behavior and going unchecked. “Police unions absolutely serve a purpose — in this case though they play a major role in shielding officers,” says Thompson.
Web story written by Allise Hurd.