Folks, there is something we have to talk about. As a PA, I am deeply concerned about the current relationship between the police and people of color in this country. I believe that it has become a public health issue.
The CDC states that “public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations”. As I write this article, I am outraged by the recent police shooting of Keith Scott. Another police shooting of a black man. Another community shaken to its core. Another family, devastated.
I support the blue. As we all know, there is a close connection to and respect for police in the medical community. Our paths cross often, especially in the emergency room. They are the ones to respond and run headfirst into a threatening situation and have given their lives for their communities. But there is something gravely wrong when a situation escalates to a point where an unarmed person of color is killed by the very people who have been charged to serve and protect.
There was a time when it was easier for me to go about my day and pretend this wasn’t happening. I can do that, because I am white. I decided that I I could no longer ignore the cries and protests of my neighbors, of my colleagues, or my friends. I think as healthcare providers we need to speak out for the health and safety of our patients and communities. That means we need to speak out for the people who are experiencing an unjustified use of force by the police.
Will the AAPA take a stance against police violence? What will happen if we don’t?
This is a public health issue. Look at the effects it is having on our communities. There are psycho-social implications that are affecting the health of our patients of color. We can help push for positive change, while maintaining our close ties with police enforcement. There have been studies conducted on the use of force; you can read one such article here.
I am supportive of the police, and I am grateful for the safety that they provide many of us. But their policies, their training, and their accountability needs to be closely evaluated and changed.
My recommendation? The AAPA needs to talk about it. We need to discuss police violence and race. As medical professionals, it is our duty to look at public health issues and take a stance. We need to be aware of who our patients are and what their needs are, beyond medicine. The medical community needs to start speaking up about the unjustifiable use of force against people of color. If we don’t, we are part of the problem. “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. – Martin Luther King Jr.