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Response to Recent Police and Civilian Killings, Part Three

July 27, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

What has been the response to these years of appeals for justice? The reactions of the police and the larger public have always been the same: support the police, create more proposals, be peaceful, be prayerful, and make promises.

Support for the Police

Support for the police usually takes several expressions. (The first two are what I call the “martyrdom ploys.”)

1. The supporters say, “We must support our police for they are putting their lives on the line.”

While this is true, we should be grateful and respect the police. But, that’s not the issue. The police knew that when they joined the force, it was a dangerous job. When they do their jobs the right way, they will be honored. A job well done has its own rewards. The issue is the disrespect, brutalization, and killing of innocent citizens who they are supposed to protect.

2. The police say, “The community doesn’t support us.”

I believe this is another ploy to increase support and to distract from their misconduct. What we have seen over the years is that the overwhelming majority of the white community supports them. After all, they are their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and parishioners. If they mean that the Black community doesn’t support them, that is an overgeneralization. People of African ancestry do not support their brutal behavior. They support correct policing.

But, the ploy works as witnessed by President Barack Obama, the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and other powerful leaders have felt it necessary to express their support of the police although they had already done so. A balanced approach with understanding and support for the legitimate protests and compassion for the loved ones of the victims of police violence. fail to please the police. Attempts to be fair is not good enough for the police. It doesn’t fit into their martyrdom ploy. There must be tears and sympathy only for the police and their loved ones.

Similarly is the ploy of raising the issue of violence in the Black community or Black-on-Black Crime. Thus, the conversation shifts from police abuse of power to Black-on-Black crime, and to police martyrdom; hence, putting the public on a guilt trip and the Black community on the defense.

3. They say, “There are only a few bad apples.”

It may be true that a small number of police officers are bad officers, but if the overwhelming majority do not weed out the bad apples, the bad apples will spoil the rest. The police can’t have it both ways. They can’t boast that they have a blue wall of silence; which means they will not break ranks even when fellow officers do wrong, and then say, “There’s only a few bad apples.” To cover for a crime, in some measure, makes one guilty of the crime.

There’s another point to make. It’s when police officers are killed by community people. Below are excerpts from my article, “Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?” It was published in the Daily Challenge in May 2015.

“…Surely, all decent, fair-minded people mourn the deaths of police officers as they do with the killings of all innocent lives. Brian Moore, a 25-year-old police officer, was killed by a ‘career criminal’ on May 4, 2015. The young man who allegedly killed him was said to have been alienated from his family. Several months ago, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed by another obviously deranged man. He had attacked his mother and sister.

“What exacerbates the tension between police and community is the reaction of the police to the death of their fellow officers. Even though the killers may have had psychological problems; nevertheless, the deaths of the officers were still used to make political points, or to rally support for the police.

“Sometimes, the supporters send a subtle message. At other times, it is blatant. At times, it’s verbal; and, at other times, it’s demonstrative. The message is: ‘We must support our police officers against the anti-police demonstrators and critics.’

Their criticism of who they believe to be, or want the public to believe, anti-police or critics of the police, reached the height of sadness and anger when police officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife as they entered the church for the funeral of a slain officer.

“It seems to mean nothing or very little to them when innocent, unarmed human beings, children, or women are being disrespected, brutalized, and/or killed; and, the indescribable pain their loved ones feel, and, to add to the pain, they watch the guilty cops exonerated. To top all of that, they are criticized when they publicly, non-violently express their demand for justice. And, even more, in their grief, they watch police officers vigorously and demonstratively uphold the guilty officers and denounce them.

“For police officers and their supporters to use the death of one of their own to rally the troops to gain supporters and win public relations in their favor, as it is seen in staging police support rallies, making the media rounds, and in New York, it seems to be tied to contract negotiations, is really deepening distrust, alienation, and resentment. They are making the issue of ‘us against them’ rather than ‘uniting on what all of us want and demand is a police force that will be and do what policemen are supposed to be and do.’

“Clearly, their reactions miss the point, and for many of them, deliberately so. The demonstrations across the country are not anti-police, but anti-police behavior – brutal, murderous, abusive, and disrespectful – of which behavior, I might add, all decent people should vehemently oppose.

“Granted that, sometimes, it appears that there is an over-generalization by those who are critics of the police. One of the major reasons is because the good police officers, and I believe the overwhelming majority are good police officers, want to do their jobs, but they say nothing when they know their fellow officers are violating every rule in the book. Thus, they are guilty of silence in the face of a crime. I believe that there is a law against that type of behavior.

“I have long advocated that good police officers need to step up to the plate. I believe that police misconduct would come to an end relatively soon if all of the good officers would declare, and mean it: ‘No More Turning Our Heads! No More Blue Wall of Silence! Guilty Officers Will Be Reported!’ In the absence of good officers coming forward, the over-generalization will continue and with justification. Remember, a few bad apples can destroy a bushel of apples. I wonder, sometimes, if police misconduct will ever really change unless (and until) there has been a change on how police ‘police’ police.

“In 2010, Governor Patterson asked me to serve on a nine-member task force entitled, ‘Why Police Kill Police?’ During one of the interviews of the police officer, we were informed that Mr. Robert Tornsey, the police officer who killed 15-year-old Randy Evans in 1976 was having a nervous breakdown. It was known by other officers in the precinct and maybe beyond his precinct. How many lives could have been saved? How much pain would have been avoided? How much misunderstanding could have been circumvented? How much tension could have been eliminated? If only police officers would have acted in the best interests of justice and compassion, not only for the loved ones of Randolph Evans and the city, but also in the best interest of Robert Torsney..”

… to be continued.