Growing up I had plans to follow in my father’s footsteps and be a police officer. What changed my mind was the TV show COPS. I still find it and similar shows interesting to watch, but back in college I realized that I would never have the patience and disposition of the officers on the show. I realized, as an example, that if I came to a home where a husband had clearly been beating his wife, I would not have the right temperament to legally deal with the husband. I would have likely issued some form of my own justice in that scenario. Though my self-control has matured through the years, recognizing that would be a challenging career for me while I was still in college was likely very beneficial in retrospect.
To this day, I am still very much pro police. I think they have an incredibly difficult and challenging job that has never been under more scrutiny. Any job where a split second decision can determine if you or someone else lives or dies has to be psychologically and mentally challenging. I think that the majority of officers are very good people doing very good things. Like in any occupation, there are a few bad apples but I do not think that is the core issue here. Officers are a reflection of society and the analytics support that racial bias still exists in some police forces just as it does in society as a whole. Many police forces have already taken steps to improve this and many others are in process. Certainly with the limelight on this issue, positive iterative changes will continue to come. If you have strong skepticism about the police, I challenge you to call your local precinct and find an officer to treat to lunch so you can speak directly and gain a better understanding of the fact that they are human and want to go home after their shift. Many officers have co-workers who were senselessly shot during routine traffic stops or similar and that can without question impact the mentality of an officer.
As a society, I believe that part of our role is to make things easier and less confusing for officers so there is no question about our intent. There are many ‘shoot or don’t shoot’ videos circulating social media showing just how challenging it can be for officers to not know someone’s intent. When it comes to routine traffic stops, I think following Coffey Anderson’s PSA on what to do is a good idea. Ensuring that the officer can clearly see your hands, your car is off, your license is already on the dash, and you are respectful is beneficial. It is embarrassing to say, but I have been pulled over about 6 times in the last 8 years (speed, taillight or headlights out, etc.) and have only been given a warning each time which I attribute to making the officer comfortable. On a more comedic note, The Chris Rock show did their own PSA back in the 90’s which is still relevant and funny.
Being Pro Police does not mean that I am anti-black. I have struggled with the inappropriateness and idiocy of some protesters but it is important to recognize that those people are a reflection of a small percentage of society who think hurting police will have a positive impact. There was a small protest group the other day who were demanding that the police force as a whole dismantle. I do not think this groups spokesperson had very good foresight in to what the consequences of lawless society would be. What caught my eye on the live news footage of the protests the other night was how the majority of protesters wanted to be peaceful and were making efforts to stop the violent perpetrators who had showed up. I am still not convinced that marching on freeways or making unreasonable demands for immediate justice is an effective means of pushing things forward positively, but I support the cause. A few days ago I heard a sermon (skip to 8:10 mark) which brought me more empathy and a healthier perspective to social injustice as a whole. As an example, I struggled with the fact that the phrase Black Lives Matter seemed to leave out all non-blacks as though they did not matter. Now, when I hear or see the phrase BLM I infer “too” at the end of it and that I think BLM2 is a more accurate depiction of the intent. For me, the sermon influenced a change in my perspective that provides me a healthier balance. Pastor Andrea is one of my favorites and this sermon is timely and well thought out.
The last link of this entry is from Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, give this video a view if you have not seen it. Like The Daily Show does so well, it mixes substance and comedy. ‘You can be pro-cop and pro-black which is what we should all be’, I couldn’t agree more. We, as citizens of this planet, need to be more cooperative, tolerant, and patient so we do not continue down a path of being divided. Our diversity is what makes us great and worth celebrating and there is room for both “sides” of this issue to make improvements and compromise.