First and foremost, George Floyd should not be dead right now. Hopefully his death is not in vain and leads to some systemic changes in our criminal justice system. As of today, four Minnesota Police Officers have been fired which is a step in the right direction as a lot of these incidents seem to go unpunished. In 2020, these tragedies should be surprising and abhorrent and not a continuation of the status quo.
There is something fascinating about playing Japanese video games with a seemingly American setting. It’s a look at what another culture uses as shorthand to show what they think of us and how we operate.
Take Virtua Cop 1 and 2. You play as an American cop. You have a gun. It’s a rail shooter. You solve every problem in the game via gun. The Japanese perspective on American Policing is surprisingly accurate. You become the gun. You shoot the screen. You can shoot everything…enemies, lamps, cars, boxes, Windows, civilians… anything. You have options. You can shoot a criminal in the hand incapacitating him OR you can shoot them in the head for the JUSTICE SHOT! Ironically named I’m sure. It’s an interesting parallel. At this point in America the best option for cops seems to be shoot for the JUSTICE shot and see what happens. Turn off the body cam and roll.
All Virtua Cop needs in the next game is to add a button to make sure the body camera malfunctions or turns off just like real life. The one thing the game gets wrong is that if kill an unarmed person in the game you lose a life. You kill and have consequences. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case in America. Cops who kill unarmed people in this country seem to use the fear they might have felt to justify killing. Playing Virtua Cop I actively sacrificed health getting shot to make sure I didn’t kill a civilian.
In my world, a cop sacrifices. You don’t kill because you want true justice. If somebody needs to die, that will be a decision made by a court of law. Cops have the hardest job because they are willingly sacrificing their lives for everyone else to survive and get justice. Somewhere it seems to have changed and became all about the cop staying alive even if it meant unnecessarily killing unarmed people, especially when black people are involved. The benefit of the doubt doesn’t exist, people aren’t getting subdued with non-lethal means.
Another important point to note about police shootings in Virtua Cop, all of those criminals are armed. My personal issue is with cops killing unarmed people. I think there is a way to deescalate armed citizens without killing them, but I understand the risk there and I refuse to judge somebody for using violent force when dealing with somebody who has the means to use it as well (I would hope Police are trained well enough to not have to kill every armed person they come in contact with and there are plenty of high profile examples that show they can).
Unarmed civilians getting murdered is unacceptable. Doubly so, if the video footage shows that person kneeling or running away. I won’t even get into the racial breakdown of who gets shot by police and who doesn’t. Regardless of race, people deserve the opportunity to a fair trial. While most officers are probably good cops, any system that allows bad cops to kill without impunity and then allows them to stay hired is problematic. Good people in that system who don’t speak up are part of the problem too.
I understand that there is a lot of nuance to this issue, and as somebody who is not an officer, there are situations that I cannot speak to. I have personally had relatively positive interactions with police (as a black man, in the Midwest!). I have friends who are officers and I believe they do what is best for the people any chance they get. That doesn’t mean there aren’t systemic issues in American policing that need to be solved. The data and the perception point out some glaring issues, and these issues are life and death. We must do better.