Intergenerational Conversations in Blue #8

Continuing “Intergenerational Conversations in Blue” – No. 8 of 9

Exchanges About Police Uses of Force and Community Relationships

Dear Chief,

Any thoughts on Janaris Cunningham?

This is the unarmed man who after being stopped for a traffic offense, failed to comply, tussled with the Birmingham detective, disarmed the officer and battered him.  The detective is now speaking about his decision making and how it was impacted by the national narrative.  I’m interested in your thoughts on this one.


Dear Sergeant,

Yes, a couple of thoughts… policing can be a dangerous business and without community trust and support it is even more dangerous. Because Det. Cunningham was assaulted does not mean we must now “war-up.” That would be foolish. So we continue to train police in good, sound, respectful, and effective tactics so that events like these are minimized – they will never be eliminated.

Here, even a “smart gun” would not have been helpful except if the felon tried to shoot Cunningham. Police must always take the high ground like the Birmingham chief said:

This incident underscores the danger that our officers and others experience every day. I think about the recent murders of the Memphis and Shreveport police officers and recognize we too could have lost an officer today. We ask the community to keep this officer and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

To me, the social media response is sad and shows just how deep resentment there is within the black community. This can be fixed but will take time and also understanding that any police over-reaction will not fix it.

Thankfully Cunningham was not killed and the suspect taken off the street and into custody.