Newell: Why aren't NBA players willing to judge cops by the data?

Cover Image

I was surprised to learn that Al Sharpton and I are on the same page for once. That would be the same Al Sharpton that sold the rights to his life story to his own charity for $531,000. He claimed that his life story was appraised and $531,000 was its legitimate value. Why is that important? Because Sharpton is relying on data. Today, he says he shouldn’t be talking about taking all police away, we ought to be reimagining how we do policing, and the idea of eliminating cops is something that a “latte liberal” may go for as they sit around the Hamptons discussing this matter academically.

I said early and often, the only communities that will suffer most as a result of defunding the police would be lower-income communities of color. The very folks that actually think this movement is going to help them will be the ones who end up suffering the most. I also said there are more law-abiding citizens in all communities than non-law-abiding citizens. As a result, those who pick up the phone and call 911 are doing so because they have trust. As calls for services go up, it can’t be that they fear police, if they’re calling them more often. They realize they’re the only people out there empowered and willing to face the tyranny of thuggery in this country.

We saw it on display just yesterday on Canal Street. We saw a state trooper running towards an individual who looked like he had something suspicious in his bag. As the individual is running away, a gun falls out of his bag, the trooper secures the weapon, makes the apprehension, secures the scene. What would have happened if he had fired his own gun instead? Would we be rioting in the street, calling for the head of the state police to resign? We’ve had chiefs resign in Seattle, Dallas and Rochester, for not doing enough, or for doing too much. There’s no winning this game.

Al Sharpton is right, people on the ground need proper policing. Is that a perfect science? No. Is more training and education needed? Yes, but you have to be willing to fund it. Training requires overtime, and when you have a vacancy rate greater than 20%, it exacerbates the problem. Sharpton was a little coy, however. The “latte liberals” that he is talking about are white, not black. He’s not facing the truth. Part of the BLM mantra, repeated by a number of black officials across the country talking about defunding the police - ‘this is our time, this is our revolution’ - has more and more of them falling by the wayside, because they’re not able to defend the premise they are advocating for, knowing full well their communities will suffer.

Larry Elder did a piece the other day about the NBA and their thoughts on police violence and police brutality. “You judge the value of NBA players by their production, what they do on the court,” he said. “The pundits talk about their 3-point percentage, times they shoot in the paint, from the outside… always looking at the data to determine whether or not a player is successful.” Elder asks why NBA players don't use the same approach when characterizing police racism as a systemic problem. When they negotiate a new contract, they go to the data, the stats, so why don’t they judge others by the same approach?

Any analysis, Elder says, “of whether cops are killing blacks because they are black, should start with noting the approximately 50 million police-civilian interactions that occur every year.” Out of those 50 million, about 11 million people are arrested, and about 60,000 cops are assaulted annually. The average clearance rate for all crimes is somewhere between 30-35%, so we’re not even arresting the majority of violators. All of this results in 1,000 people being killed, on average, by police in recent years. Of those 1,000, approximately 250 were black and 500 were white. The percentage of police shootings that involve a white cop and an unarmed black suspect is less than 4% of the total. The percentage of white cops killing unarmed black men who did not reasonably pose a threat is even smaller.

Elder continues, “Let’s put things in perspective. A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.”

So when we dig down into the data, why is it that these NBA players are willing to be judged by the stats, but aren’t willing to do it with others? It is all politically motivated.