First Pitch: America Needs Police Reform, Not Major League Baseball

This site is designed as an escape from real life.

It’s a place where you can come and read about what’s happening with the Pirates today, tomorrow, and in the past.

I feel that unplugging from real life is important for everyone, and for everyone’s mental health.

That said, I’d be remiss if I used this space today to promote anything, or to discuss anything going on with Pittsburgh baseball, with the racial injustice and police brutality that is going on in America right now, and which has been going on for way too long.

The NBA players took a stand last night. The WNBA players took a stand. Some MLB players took a stand, with three games getting postponed as a result.

Here was the statement by the Milwaukee Bucks:

Here was Dominic Smith after the Mets game with some emotional words.

MLB has a full slate of games on the schedule today, including a double header between the Pirates and Cardinals. The NBA players are meeting to decide their next steps. MLB can make a massive statement and work to push for real change if they take a stand. I’m hoping there are no Pirates games to cover today, because America doesn’t need an escape right now.

This is a complex issue, and yet it’s so simple.

An innocent black man was shot in the back seven times by the police for trying to get in his car.

That same police saw a 17-year-old white kid walking around with an AR-15 and not only thanked him for his support, but provided him with water.

That kid shot three protesters, killing two, and the same police watched him walk free.

That police justified the shooting of the black man by releasing that he had a knife in the car — a fact that no one could have known, and no one would have suspected if he was white.

That police justified the murders by the white kid by blaming protesters for being out after curfew.

There will never be change in this country unless there is accountability. The police need to be accountable for their racial biases. There will never be change here unless we stop to change it.

You might know a police officer. You might be a police officer.

I know police officers. In my talks with them, they suffer from the same thing that many in corporate America suffer from. They are underpaid, under-trained, and overworked. The barrier to get in is way too low, which leaves us with either poorly qualified candidates, or qualified candidates always looking over their shoulder at their potential replacements. They’re asked to handle way too many things that police officers aren’t qualified to handle. Add in that they’re armed like fucking soldiers to police small town America across the country, and you’ve got a dangerous combination.

We need police reform.

We need more training for police officers before they ever step foot in the streets, and constant recurring training for those officers while they’re on the street.

An MLB player wouldn’t play a game without taking batting practice earlier in the day. Why do we expect police officers to go about their daily routines with no time for training?

We need to strip police budgets down to the point where they’re only covering actual police work, and not funding tanks and riot gear. Maybe if we give the money to other industries — those assisting with mental health, homeless, hunger, the elderly, and white neighbors protecting their property value — we wouldn’t need the police as often and definitely wouldn’t need the riot gear.

We need to have police officers working fewer hours, with no mandated overtime. If we’re going to spend on police, spend on people, not weapons. People have brains. Those brains see a decline in judgment the more they’re overworked. If you have some time today, look up the research on the impact of overtime hours on your overall health and decision making. Then imagine working someone to death, heavily arming them in the process, and asking them to make literal life and death decisions.

We’re so far behind in this country, and our black brothers and sisters are dying as a result, while white terrorists can act with impunity.

Until we start addressing these problems, MLB players and players across every other sport should wildcat strike. Sports are so big in this country that when you take them away, people immediately listen.

In the words of a player who should be getting time at shortstop for the Pirates:


 

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