I agree that we still need a police force — communities need to be defended against criminals who will prey upon them ("Letter to the Editor: Support law enforcement," June 18). “Bad apples” in the police force do need to be identified, quickly, and be removed from the force, permanently.
The force also needs training, continuously, to properly respond to incidents of all kinds, and to not over-react to the point of using deadly force when it can be avoided. How to respond in the heat of the moment is an extremely difficult judgment call for all officers, and being human beings, they will not always get it right. Hence the need for continuous training. Appropriate response and de-escalation skills need to be constantly refreshed; we cannot train officers once and say we’re done.
A recent letter writer's comment that “all lives matter,” while true, is disappointing. He is missing the point in this moment. The Black Lives Matter movement is trying to call our attention to our racist past and present, and the need for structural changes to counter systemic racism that, for too long, has oppressed people of color. Discussions of the past few weeks may be focused on policing, but we need to broaden our focus to include the changes needed to provide equal opportunities in education, housing and health care. When those fundamental changes are realized, then, perhaps, we may have fewer events like those of the recent past.
Robert Berthold, Georgetown, Texas