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Police are People Too!

Defund Police-NO

Defunding the Police is a response to the symptoms and not to the actual problems. It is not the answer. The answer is to reform the Police. Return them to their roots to “Protect and Serve” their communities. We need the police force, but it must be one we can trust.

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”—Publilius Syrus.

Why is there a Cry to Defund the Police?

The cry to defund the police has arisen because of the recent incidents against people of color. The responses were wrong but were the actions of the few officers involved and not all the police force. The police face many challenges today and are sailing in turbulent waters. Part of the problem is that we ask our police to do much more than protect us and enforce our laws. We send our police into situations that would try the wisdom of Solomon. We expect them to make the right decision every step of the way. 

We expect them to be:

  • Social Workers
  • Truant officers
  • Health care workers
  • Lie detectors

How can we change to Policing that reflects our needs?

The major changes we need to make in our police departments are difficult. Solving these problems is difficult because of the police organizations and unions. We need a change in these among other areas. We need to:

  • Require each police officer to be accountable for their actions. 
  • Strengthen the screening process to identify tendencies to use violence to solve problems, racist leanings, and the tendency to overreact when under stress in each potential candidate. Weed out the problem candidates as early as possible.
  • Change the unions to get them to agree that it is not their job to protect the rotten apples.
  • Identify tendencies early on for excessive use of force, misreading a situation, and stress-related issues in an individual officer. When these issues arise and before they become excessive, retrain the individual, move them to a position where they don’t interact directly with the public, or fire them. We must be able to fire someone after an incident like the death of George Floyd or shooting a man 7 times in the back.
  • Return to community policing, especially in the areas where police have instant adrenaline and fear for their lives just going into the area
  • Establish Community Review Boards to work with the police to review policies, training, and citizen complaints to help return to the concept of “Serve and Protect.”

This is not just a police problem

Society has to take some blame.  We don’t treat our police as our friends anymore. We must learn to give them the benefit of the doubt. We need to rebuild a trust relationship with them and let go of the adversarial relationship.  We as individuals within our society need to recognize that we should follow the reasonable requests of the police, we shouldn’t be entering shouting matches. It is up to both of us to deescalate the situation.

We have to learn how to communicate with our police officers, learn to understand their problems. We have to learn why they issue the commands they issue and why we need to follow them immediately and cooperatively.

The right to free speech and protests does not mean we as citizens may loot and burn. Rioting solves nothing. It reinforces the belief that the police who we want to “protect and Serve” citizens have to become more militant than before. Peaceful protests are our right, but rioting and looting to honor the memory of a person mistreated person are wrong.

What do we as citizens do next?

Next, we act like adults and work together with the police to understand and find solutions for the identified issues:

  • The police have become too militarized. There should be very few needs for a militarized response to a local community’s problem. We need to discuss how to reverse this trend by asking ourselves why the Federal Government thinks it needs to sell or give used military equipment to municipal police forces and why they think they need them.
  • We need to weed out those individuals in the police forces who use excessive force in any situation. This problem reminds me of the stereotypical southern small-town policeman who ran the town. He decided who went to jail and who didn’t.
  • We have to learn how to handle mass demonstrations better. 
  • We need to rebuild a trust relationship between the communities and their police force.
  • Union and management have to realize that they are part of the problem and start working together along with their local governing bodies to turn this trust into reality.

We as citizens must become part of the solution and not the problem.

Encourage local management of the police and the head of the department to involve citizens in discussions with police. Get the dialogue going.

Write opinion pieces for the newspaper.

Do a ride along with one patrolman (after Coronavirus.)

Find out who the police report to in your locality (police Commission or city council)

Go into these steps with an open mind -remember we each see and interpret things through our own lens.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

—Winston Churchill