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In the same spirit of transparency it released a statement, the city of Roanoke Rapids and its police department should release the body camera footage documenting the arrest of a man who reportedly ignored the directions of an officer controlling traffic in the aftermath of a crash last week.

Doing so could help back their contention the use of force was justified in the case of the man who reportedly nearly hit the officer directing traffic and initially refused to stop for another officer.

It would show the public a more detailed view of the matter than does one widely circulating around social media.

We were told Tuesday after a written request for release of the video, “Per state general statutes and discussion with our city attorney, we cannot release the requested information without a court order approving the release.” 

We believe in lieu of going that route and to make a good faith effort of transparency at a time when distrust of police is high, release of this video could help show the events of that day last week in real time. Doing this, we believe, might settle any questions the public might have on the matter.

While it’s not going to satisfy everyone who believes excessive force was used in the case, we believe it will for those who can keep an open mind and review the footage objectively.

Our early view of the matter is the force was justified. 

You have a person who blatantly ignored the warnings of the traffic officer, refused to stop initially and then when he did refused to comply with the orders of the officers.

This case wasn’t Minneapolis — it wasn’t close to it at all.

This was a case which could have resulted in grave consequences for the officer had he been hit, could have endangered others on the road that day and could have put the suspect in more peril than his trouble with the law had something gone wrong with the way he was driving.

Some are going to believe the least little jostle, a hard push or shove, or the twisting of an arm behind the back are an immediate call for police brutality and that defendants in cases far more serious than this one deserve to be handled like one would handle a newborn. It doesn’t always work that way.

While it is our opinion this case is not one of excessive force and is definitely not a case of police brutality, the police department said in its statement Tuesday it plans to collaborate with Dr. Stephanie Hampton Credle to bring a series of training sessions to the department to help with the sensitive issues police departments now face.

For that effort, we applaud the department. More training to become more aware of issues such as these is never a bad thing.

In his statement Tuesday, Chief Bobby Martin said, “The RRPD shares the community’s concern whenever it becomes necessary to use force to complete an arrest. We release the following information in pursuit of transparency and increased public trust.”

We believe the next step in its pursuit of transparency and increased public trust should be to release the body camera footage.

And it should be released in the same spirit the statement was — Editor