Cedarville prof, former police chief reacts to Dallas shooting

Tension between police, communities at 'the highest degree of tension,' says local expert

Five police officers were killed and seven more were wounded Thursday night in Dallas after a sniper open fire during protests against police violence.

Two civilians also were injured in the attack. Texas law enforcement officials have identified the slain suspect as Micah Johnson, 25.

Cedarville University professor Patrick Oliver, a former police chief, said Friday morning to News Center 7’s John Bedell that “we’re at the highest degree of tension between law enforcement and a segment of the minority community, particularly African Americans, over police intervention.”

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Oliver — who spent nearly 28 years in law enforcement, including 16 years as a police chief — said the issue in question is “police legitimacy.”

“It’s about whether the minority community, a segment of it, sees police as a legitimate authority in the lives of the members of the community,” Oliver said. “There are segments of the minority community that feel they don’t have the same equity as the members of the majority community. When that occurs, nobody’s safe. Community members aren’t safe and the police aren’t safe.”

Oliver — the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Cedarville — believes the violence stems from a “moral crisis in the United States of America.”

“Our values are degenerating,” Oliver said. “People really need to return to good, solid moral values. Problems are solved within, not from without. Until we start addressing character issues, we’re going to have problems.

” … We need to be concerned about who becomes a police officer and hire the right people.”

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for July 18-21 in Cleveland. Oliver said he estimates between 2,000 and 2,500 law enforcement officers from around the country will be in Cleveland for the event.

“This incident in Dallas last night heightens the already high level of tension in Cleveland in managing the Republican National Convention,” Oliver said. “Because you now have to be concerned if there’s going to be a copycat crime. Is somebody else going to send snipers there when they know there will be officers there managing a major political event?”