With the long overdue "eruption" of the Black Lives Matter movement, many Americans have literally learned via cell-phone videos that the police no longer work for all citizens of the community, but for monied interests, and perhaps those that look and speak like them. Somehow, citizens have been separated by race and socio-economic status to determine who is policed and who is protected. Thanks to social media, law enforcement is being revealed as often time less enforcement and more punishment, including an astounding rate of summary execution of Blacks, Latinos and People of Color. Because we live in a NRA supported gun culture thriving on the notion that everyone with a gun is the answer to all violence, police themselves have become more and more fearful for their lives - which makes policing extremely dangerous for our citizenry. With a President urging police "knock heads" (See: www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/watch-trump-police-dont-worry-people-custody-hitting-heads-squad-cars) and carry criminals out on stretchers" (See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1es9MZyyPOA), police brutality has somehow been accepted as "normal" by some Americans.
What role does 21st Century law enforcement become? With recent cals to "defund the police", politicians have seized on these efforts to portray those seeking to reform law enforcement as somehow being Anti-police instead of pro-law abiding policing. With Trump and the GOP stoking the fires of division and hate (all the while using law enforcement at their last line of defense), they forget that once upon a time, a group of rogue policemen threatening to ignore crimes unless their demands were all met (ie., improved benefits and expanded authorizations for use of enhanced policing "tactics." ).
One such incident resulted in the liquidation of the entire Boston police department. The governor that supported that radical solution? None other than future GOP President, Calvin Coolidge. (See: www.americanheritage.com/strike-made-president). So Republicans used to believe that good police must replace bad police and police unions don't always correlate to enviable law enforcement. Just this past week, the Atlanta Police Department had a rash of officers calling in "sick" ("Blue Flu") to protest the indictment of one of the own for brutally shooting a suspect in the back as they tried to run away. (See: www.forbes.com/sites/sethcohen/2020/06/18/as-atlanta-police-protest-is-blue-flu-the-next-pandemic/#7709ebe6638f). When citizens demanded his indictment, Republicans suddenly couldn't recall that Republicans have done just that - defunded the police or replaced them wholesale. Now I am pro-Union, but not when their main intent is to insulate their members from wrongdoing. Today, their is mounting evidence that police unions do just that - perpetuate a system of protected immunity from exposure for breaking the law themselves.
Another concern is that modern law enforcement has very few Blacks, Latinos, People of Color (or females) in their leadership ranks. In some areas, there have never been any Black Captains or Chiefs. (See: www.heraldtribune.com/opinion/20200622/anderson-local-law-leadership-lacking-in-diversity). It is also of concern that there is growing evidence to suggest police agencies at all levels recruits and retain officers with known affiliation with Un-American White Supremacists groups. (See: www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/fbi-white-supremacists-in-law-enforcement). It should concern us all that law enforcement has sought out military surplus gear and equipment meant to patrol enemy territory, and not America's city streets. And this is part of our problem today - law enforcement has forgotten what their actual role in society is. Americans must take back legitimate control over Law Enforcement so they can no longer be allowed to police, accuse, arrest and summarily execute judgment by their use of lethal force. Riot control must also be reformed, as far too many Americans exercising their First Amendment rights have been attacked and brutalized from the firing of rubber bullets to the use if pepper spray and gas. Worse yet, Americans recently witnessed from the comfort of their homes, the sheer audacity of law enforcement literally beating innocent protesters (with clubs, shields, batons and fists). When it comes to modern day Public Relations, law enforcement obviously has a lot to learn.
Growing up, many Americans like myself were oriented to law enforcement through the actions of fictional Marshal Matt Dillon of television's Gunsmoke series (See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunsmoke), Detective Sgt. Joe Friday in Dragnet (See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragnet_(franchise) or Eliot Ness of the
"Untouchables" (See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Untouchables_(1959_TV_series). Each of these characters embodied the "Serve and Protect" ideal including concerted efforts to be truthful to their mission while de-escalating violence and confrontation. As Eliot Ness once said, "Doubts raced through my mind as I considered the feasibility of enforcing a law which the majority of honest citizens didn't seem to want." We sure could use Marshal Dillon, Joe Friday and Eliot Ness these days (now more than ever)! Have a safe week!