Local professor says excessive force by police is a problem for both sides

Published: Jul. 8, 2016 at 2:26 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2016 at 5:50 AM CDT
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ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - While President Obama says police use of excessive force matters to all Americans, one Athens State professor says African Americans are the only ones feeling the wrath.

Criminology professor Dr. Quanda Stevenson says the problem is with both sides. There's a lack of respect for police from the community, meanwhile African Americans are being treated with more hostility from police than any other racial group.

Dr. Quanda Stevenson has been teaching police officers for 15 years.

"A good 1/3 of my class is law enforcement officers," Stevenson said.

But there could be some things police officers don't learn in the classroom.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of textbooks that discuss specifically minorities and police," said Stevenson.

Recent incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota support Stevenson's ongoing research.

"Police officers seem, when it is an African American male, to use force first, not questions," said Stevenson.

She says there's a major problem when it comes to both sides understanding one another when confrontations arise.

"From a civilian's standpoint, they're thinking, give me a chance, give me a chance to explain like the situation in Minnesota. When an officer approaches a vehicle, they are already on guard, and expect the person to follow the commands and instructions that they give."

So what's the answer?

"We need law enforcement officers to stand up, and to show us. They are not targeting African American males and using excessive force that they are there to communicate and help individuals."

Stevenson says respect needs to come from the other side as well.

"I hate to say this, but, what I would tell any young African American male is that they should be very cautious when they're interacting with police officers. Listen to the instructions that are given by the police officer," said Stevenson.

Stevenson adds that social media and the fact that more and more of these incidents being caught on tape will help bring about change she believes
needs to happen.

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