Questions abound in the wake of the latest police-involved shooting captured on videotape, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake remains alive but grievously wounded after being shot repeatedly by city police officers.
Again, as we have seen too many times just this year, the lack of immediate clarity of exactly what occurred foments anger and cries for swift justice, forcing the city and its municipal leaders to prepare for multiple nights of civil unrest on America’s streets from a citizenry demanding answers. Some answers have started to emerge, and hopefully, those facts will help better inform and shape the discourse moving forward.
As is the case in any investigation, let alone one comprised of such volatile ingredients, many questions went publicly unanswered in the earliest stages of this event. As the former head of a large municipal police department, I have seen firsthand, however, the inherent dangers that can evolve by rushing to judgment too quickly, especially when all the facts of the case have not been collected.
But in 2020, when community powder kegs simmer, poised to ignite over exacerbated tensions between police and their communities, the need for clear, concise, and timely distribution of ongoing streams of information to the public is critical.
Well-intentioned Police and government leaders in Kenosha are dealing with a public clamoring for answers. As in any case of this nature, community leaders in Kenosha may not hear all of the answers they’re demanding in these preliminary days of the investigation.
Now, more than ever, the need to foster and maintain open, transparent lines of communication between law enforcement and the communities it serves remains a critical component to helping any American city hoping to emerge safely from the other side of a crisis.