Police Reform: You’re Looking in the Wrong Place
From the Wickersham Commission to recent calls to defund and abolish the police, efforts at police reform have been underway for the better part of the last century. Through the decades, policing in the United States has adjusted, evolved, and adapted to the ever-changing landscape of law and public policy. In more recent years, police agencies have embraced calls for reforms and transparency by pulling back the curtain on policy, training, and investigations and by involving community groups in decision-making processes related to core functions of policing.
Historically, calls for police reform have reached their peak following high profile events often involving police use of force; Rodney King, Michael Brown, George Floyd.
More recently, calls for reform have been overshadowed by vocal proponents of defunding or abolishing police altogether. Celebrities, professional athletes, and politicians with widespread platforms are carrying the defund/abolish message far and wide. Mainstream media organizations demonize police who have acted lawfully in defense of themselves or others with misleading headlines. Their influence has seeped into the fabric of the radical left and action is now being taken to destroy the thin blue line to the detriment of societies most at risk.
As Democrat-run cities are working hard to divert money away from law enforcement, crime is soaring.
Violence plagues these cities unlike anything in recent memory. Chicago sees dozens of shootings on any given weekend, many ending in the deaths of young blacks. Portland has seen an unprecedented number of homicides while police work to quell violence directed at them from anarchists’ intent on burning the city.
Much of the message being sent by those with influence is that the police are unwilling or unable to be reformed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In nearly 20 years working within a large metropolitan police agency in the Pacific Northwest, I have never seen or heard of a reasonable change that hasn’t been considered at the very least. There isn’t a police officer I know who believes their way is the best way to handle the job and nothing exists beyond. There is a universal understanding that there are always ways to improve and to do things better.
Through all the recent calls for police reform during current events, one thing is becoming abundantly clear. The police will continue to be open to change and will continue to strive for excellence.
Those calling for reform only need to look as far as within themselves for the needed change. They can do so by paying attention to, rather than ignoring the facts. They can stop rushing to judgment about incidents only moments after they have occurred when nothing is known about circumstances surrounding these events.
They can stop playing the victim card, which they do, knowing full well it was their behavior or the behavior of a dangerous subject which led to a justifiable reaction by law enforcement. They can give sworn professionals, who took an oath to protect and serve and who put themselves in harm’s way to hold the line between order and chaos, the benefit of the doubt they deserve.
Those calling for abolition and reform need to remember law enforcement is a profession, just like a doctor or an airline pilot.
They criticize split second, life and death decisions made by a professional with thousands of hours of training and experience, and they do it from a position of knowing only what they see in the movies and on television. Yet, with approximately 250,000 deaths annually in the U.S. attributed to medical mistakes; those same people are not seen rioting in the streets demanding that doctors be held accountable.
Despite the fact, some studies suggest racial minorities are disproportionately affected. One would think they would, as it is medical mistakes and malpractice that are attributed to the deaths, not intentional and lawful acts dictated by the dangerous criminal behavior of the recipient of police use of force.
Police officers are people.
There is no denying there are bad cops, but they are few and far between. Officers who tarnish the badge are held accountable, and in most cases, they are held to a much higher standard than their civilian counterparts. There is no mythical “Blue Wall of Silence” in which police circle the wagons to protect and cover-up misconduct. In my experience, the exact opposite is true.
Those who act outside of law or policy bring a bad name to us all.
Despite the vocal minority, officers will continue to respond to calls for service, will continue to help those in need, and will continue to catch dangerous predators who won’t think twice about victimizing advocates of abolishing police. Policing will continue to improve through new laws, new technologies, and new ideas. Police will continue to embrace new and necessary reforms that are in the best interest of the communities they serve. Will proponents of the defund and abolition movements have the guts to look in the mirror, realize they are part of the problem, and reform themselves?