When transparency is tarnished

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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On Tuesday, July 19, The Natchez Democrat published an article “Woman with a knife shot during interaction with Natchez police.”

According to that article, several police officers responded to a suicide call, whereas a woman had a knife. At some point, during her interaction with the officers, she was shot. Our Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry declined to name the officer involved.

That article also stated the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident, and upon completing their investigation, agents will share their findings with the Attorney General’s Office, the story states.

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After reading that article, I asked myself the following questions:

  1. How many officers arrived at the scene?
  2. At what point during the woman’s interaction with the police led to her being shot?
  3. Why did the officer shoot the woman, instead of the officer(s) using their taser gun?
  4. Why did Chief Daughtry decline to name the officer? And what reason (if any) did he give for refusing to name the officer?

Articles like this, and the lack of transparency, is one of the primary reasons that stoke mistrust in the police. Legislators must do more to stop the increased protection for law enforcement officers without increasing or even approaching balanced protections for citizens from the police.

When the Bureau of Investigation investigates a law enforcement incident, one of its goals is to ensure all protocols were thoroughly followed. The prudent course of action is to find out what exactly happened. Upon completion of their investigation, I hope there is the promotion of transparency, accountability and fair practices that protect public safety and civil rights. Failure to do so will only continue to widen the relationship and trust between the police and the black communities.

Each day a law enforcement person puts their life on the line, and we appreciate them for their sacrifice. Consider this, depending on the circumstance, every person who has an interaction with a law enforcement person(s), isn’t that individual life on the line as well?

Whenever you have an interaction with a law enforcement person, comply with their requests, even if your civil rights are violated. Hopefully, you get to live another day, and that day you can file your grievance(s) or protests (even if you must do it by yourself). Draw attention to your situation, be persistent and resilient.

The above interaction with the police could have been you, and can still be you. There will come a time when we must step out of our comfort zone, and do what Congressman John Lewis said, “Get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.”


Stephen Washington is a Natchez resident.