Sunday, December 21, 2014

A good view on law enforcement

My family suffered yet another sudden tragedy last week, which is why posting has ground to a halt. I'll touch on that later.

In the meantime, a friend of mine from my newspaper days posted this to Facebook today, and I felt it deserved a bigger audience. He definitely leans left, and I rarely see eye to eye with him on social issues, but his post made a lot of sense to me. I had a few quiet minutes at work, and copy/paste is quick and easy, so read on.

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Such a terrible tragedy today in New York. We've had far, far too many this year in the United States.
None of them needed to die. Not the police officers in New York today, not Eric Garner, not the officers in California, not Tamir Rice, not Michael Brown, not the officers in Nevada, not Bryon Dickson.

And don't blame this on an urban or black or cultural thing. The coward who shot the officers today might have been in a gang, but the cowards who killed the officers in Blooming Grove, California and Nevada were white, anti-government fanatics.

We need to have an honest discussion in this society about how we treat police and how they treat us.

They cannot see civilians only when they are committing crimes or in danger.

And we cannot see officers only when we are in danger or we misbehave.

We have to see each on our streets. In our churches, in our stores and know each others' names.

Certain parts of society need to learn that in areas of this country the police don't have a great reputation for honesty and integrity.
And certain parts of society need to see police as part of their community.

I don't know how we change it. I'm not that smart.

But I do think there are some things that should be obvious at this point.

Training needs to be improved. Spending money on war vehicles doesn't seem to be as valuable as getting extra men and women in uniforms and on the streets.

Officers shouldn't just be in schools to guard against the next shooting, but so that a little kid can see an officer smile at them and ask them how they're doing.

There aren't enough female and minority officers in the field.
And we need to look at each other beyond seeing a badge dividing us.
We need to look at each other for who we are: brothers and sisters, countrymen all.

And here's a little tough love for both sides of the divide. If you're an officer and someone on your squad is doing something immoral, you speak up. You don't just owe it to us, you owe it to yourself. And if you think the police are keeping you down, stop generalizing. We all know there are bad apples in every profession. Don't confuse the good guys with the bad guys.
I keep thinking about my 3-year-old.

Michael loves seeing police officers when he's out and about. I'm fairly certain he wants to be four things when he grows up: Iron Man, Batman, a firefighter or a police officer.

Two weeks ago, we were sitting in a hoagie shop in Wilkes-Barre when two State Troopers sat down next to us. He stared at them then asked, "Are you a police officer?"


"Are you a good guy?"

The other officer laughed as the older one said, "We try to be."

He looked at the officer's gun. "Do you shoot people?" He has no boundaries. And, in our house, we often talk about how good people don't shoot people.
The officer who was laughing stopped. They both paused and looked at each other. I looked at them, hoping they weren't offended. I partially wanted them to pull a bait and switch.

The officer said they hoped they never had to shoot anyone.
Michael went back to his hoagie and the younger officer reached over and patted him on the shoulder.
"You be good, Santa's watching."

"You know Santa," Michael asked.

"We do."

Those are the interactions that can save a community.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about your family's tragedy. Thoughts and prayers.

    Your left-leaning friend's words make more sense than just about anything else I've read on the situation. Maybe there's hope for him yet...