The high expectations, however, have been shattered. The report, dated June 3, presented to Mr. Crapp, does nothing to create transparency and, thus, has dashed the hopes of residents and the families of the victims.
But that is not really the fault of the person who conducted the study, Mr. Paul Philip. He says in the beginning of the five-page document, “This report serves as an assessment of the Miami Police Department and the services it provides to the City’s neighborhoods and residents.” It does not claim to be an investigation of the seven killings and, in fact, clearly states that Mr. Philip deferred to ongoing investigations by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice.
The question then is this: Why was the report commissioned, in the first place? There are obviously a multitude of problems that are wrong with the City of Miami Police Department. Many of those problems are endemic to the agency and go back to at least a quarter-century. But, in recent months, the focus of attention for African-American residents of this city has been the killings.
Did Mr. Crapp believe that a superficial glance at the department would resolve the issues which some officers seem to have with young black men? It obviously will not. So it is hard to avoid being suspicious that this was merely an exercise by officialdom to hoodwink African Americans into believing something serious is being done to alleviate their concerns and assure them that their young men are safe on the streets of the city of Miami.
After all, like Mr. Crapp, Mr. Philip is black and he brought impeccable credentials to the assignment, being a retired senior FBI agent. So, you know, what more can you expect? You have a black city manager and it was a black who conducted the study. What more do you want?
A lot more. A whole lot more.
Mr. Philip’s report is not without some merit, though. He stayed quiet on the subject of the actual shootings but the statistics he includes in his report make it clear the cops who shot these young black men are, for the most part, Latinos. The black men who died between July 5, 2010, and Feb. 10, 2011, were killed by Latinos, except in one instance when a black officer was part of a squad that killed a man. It is not useful to point the race finger in every situation but this one begs for an answer.
Mr. Philip does make it clear, however, that there are problems with the so-called Gang Unit, the Tactical Robbery Unit, the Tactical Operation Section. He questioned the selection process and training of officers and it is here that responsibility cannot be dodged. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the department head, in this case, Chief Miguel Exposito, and those who run City Hall. Even the first or, at the most, the second fatal shooting by police required an immediate response to determine what was going on. That it was allowed to continue and a total of seven lives were lost is wholly unacceptable.
It once again calls into question the value which is placed on black life. In no other community would that be tolerated. And the powers-that-be ought to be aware of the fact that it is not being tolerated in the African-American community and that, once more tensions are running high and police-community relations have been significantly harmed.