NASW Responds to Shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Texas; again urges policing reforms

Jul 8, 2016

NASW STATEMENT:

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is appalled by the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and again urges reforms that would help end racial profiling and excessive use of police force and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

It is also important that we express how deeply NASW is upset about the tragic shooting deaths of five Dallas police — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith — and the wounding of seven other police. Those deaths are made more tragic by the fact that the Dallas police and the protestors had formed a collaboration to ensure that the march was peaceful. It is gratifying to learn that the shooting of the policemen had no association with the protestors who were responding to the deaths of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile.

NASW recommends that members of the social work profession, which has a long history of pushing for social justice, to work for reforms in the nation’s law enforcement system. NASW is encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the death of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has called for a Justice Department probe of Castile’s death.

This association condemns any retaliatory violence against members of the law enforcement, the vast majority of whom are committed to protecting citizens in their communities.

Although police investigations are ongoing regarding the deaths of Castile and Sterling, data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows men of color are more likely to be killed during arrests, especially during minor traffic stops.

Between 2003 and 2009 there were 4,813 arrest-related deaths in the United States and more than 90 percent of people killed by police were male. More than 54 percent were Latino and African American while whites were 42.1 percent, BJS said.

Such data indicates there is a culture within some law enforcement agencies that condones aggressive behavior toward people of color.

NASW supports several initiatives to lessen incidences of such deaths, including national standards on the use of lethal police force, training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color, and making body cameras standard police equipment.

NASW  offers its condolences to the families of Sterling, Castile and the police who were killed in Dallas and wishes a full recovery for police who are being treated for their injuries. In the days and months to come, NASW urges the public and law enforcement agencies honor them by coming together to work on peaceful means to improve relations between police and their communities.

NASW LOUISIANA CHAPTER STATEMENT:

With the tragic death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016, the National Association of Social Workers, Louisiana Chapter (NASW-LA) urges reforms that would help end the excessive use of police force and the need for continued training on how best to respond and react to potential conflict in high risk situations.

NASW supports reforms that could prevent unnecessary police shootings from occurring. These include:
•National standards on the use of lethal police force.
•National standards on how police handle persons living with mental illnesses or disabilities.
•Training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color.

In the aftermath of the recent police involved shootings NASW-LA urges the public to use peaceful means to improve relations between communities and the police who serve them.

NASW-LA joins the Governor in his effort to encourage the faith-based community leaders as well as our local and state elected officials to work together to continue to call for peace and calm across our community as details continue to unfold.

NASW-LA supports the actions of the Governor of the State of Louisiana calling for a thorough investigation by the U. S. Department of Justice.  Further, NASW-LA supports the U.S. Justice Department’s continuing efforts to bring about police reforms and improve community policing. The association encourages the Justice Department to review the Baton Rouge incident to determine whether civil rights violations charges should be filed.

NASW-LA joins the Governor in his effort to encourage the faith-based community leaders as well as our local and state elected officials to work together to continue to call for peace and calm across our community as details continue to unfold.  We recognize that this may be difficult and that there are feelings regarding the events that took place. We know protests are going on, and we urge everyone to remain peaceful. One thing is for sure – another violent act or another family torn apart is not the answer.

NASW-LA also encourages its members and the wider social work community to become involved in activities and organizations that are active in bringing about policing reforms.

NASW TEXAS CHAPTER:

The Texas Chapter of NASW (NASW/TX) offers its deepest condolences to the families of the victims who were killed by snipers opening fire at a Black Lives Matter Rally in Dallas, Texas.  The Chapter also extends its wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured in this horrible attack.

NASW/TX decries the use of violence against those who are exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and protest peacefully and against law enforcement present, who were there to protect the participants during the event.

This senseless tragedy yet again highlights the need for meaningful action to work towards improving relationships between law enforcement and all citizens as well as passing legislation on gun control.

The questions that remain are:

1) when will our elected representatives, pass meaningful gun control legislation;

2) when will law enforcement take positive action on improving relationships with people of color; and

3) how many more people will die as a result of these issues not being addressed.

For needed assistance please contact 211 and the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department- (214) 819-2000

 

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