Policing has seldom been in the spotlight like it has over the past seven years, since the 2014 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
While that shooting became national and international news, it was, sadly, far from an isolated incident. Rather, it's all too common — after Ferguson, The Washington Post started tracking fatal police shootings and found that, even after the scrutiny brought on by the Michael Brown killing, police have shot and killed about 1,000 people every year since. As of the middle of 2020, police forces in the nation had shot and killed 5,400 people since the start of 2015.
Police-involved shootings have captured headlines repeatedly, most recently the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Minneapolis, for which the officer in question has resigned and faces a second-degree manslaughter charge.
The repeated shootings have been accompanied by increasing calls for reform, increased de-escalation training, and other measures to reduce the number of deaths at the hands of police.
But for one sheriff in Texas, the most important step in reducing killings has little to do with the police at all.