Greetings, Friends ~
We live in a world where going out on a limb can be risky business. The “Politically Correct” of our society dictates that we walk right up to the edge of the cliff with all the other sheep…and jump over. Do not question what society has accepted as truth. Do not research on your own. Just go along with whatever has been published and call it good. Unless, of course, you break from the herd in search of real truth. “PC” be damned.
Being raised in a follow-every-rule-blindly religion taught me that I am not so much a follower. At some point in my mid-20’s, I freed my life of those fire-and-brimstone beginnings. In doing so, I made a decision that honesty was more important to me than popularity. I not only go out on a limb at times, I might well break the whole branch.
I am reminded about the tragedies in Ferguson. You know the story by now. Similar cases have also come to light since. These cases spotlight police officers who are investigated for using an inappropriate amount of force, to include causing the death of their suspect. In the Michael Brown (Ferguson) case, many just listen to the hyperbole, blindly accept whatever the media spoon fed us, and call it truth.
Regardless what side you stand for or against in such controversies, perhaps we can agree on this. We get further in our quest for change by staying with facts. And the fact is, our collective responses to Ferguson was not about racism. It also was not about law enforcement (as a whole) being corrupt. The big-picture issue about the actions we, as citizens, took as the result of that incident is about prejudice.
In addition to all the news I read concerning these cases, I listened to several helpful commentaries on NPR regarding the use of force as it relates to law enforcement officers. Knowing many cops personally, I began to shy away from mainstream news and social media posts about that controversy. Comments on both sides were disturbing.
Regardless what actually occurred in any of the police-using-lethal-force cases, I do agree that our legal system needs an overhaul. I have my own reasons for feeling the way I do, and it includes spending 13 years in a legal career prior to my current profession. That does not mean I advocate for standing up against all cops everywhere. Nor would I stand against (or for) an entire ethnicity. People just are not all the same, regardless the color of their skin or the badge they wear.
Of note in these types of cases, just because someone is not indicted does not mean they are not guilty of wrongdoing. Regardless whether you are the CPO of Microsoft, a police officer or the manager at a local McDonald’s, there are written laws that govern the job you are paid to do each day.
The difference between the job of a law enforcement officer and other jobs is that cops have been assigned to be operators of the laws – flawed or otherwise. Just because they are assigned to be an operator does not automatically mean they are good humans and do no wrong. They are people just like the rest of us. However, in the line of law enforcement duty, they are allowed to use whatever force they deem necessary against a suspect. That includes using a gun. They should, then, live by a much higher standard of how they do their jobs. Those jobs carry with them a serious amount of power and responsibility. If it is misused, our laws should allow for discipline, the same as any one of us would receive had we done that same thing.
Just a few months ago, what I would call a misuse of that authority affected someone close to me. Even the arresting officers’ fellow cops on scene disagreed with making an arrest. My friend is now paying thousands of dollars to address an unwarranted DUII charge and an unnecessary arrest. By the way, she is Caucasian.
As an aside, if you have balance issues as the result of medical problems, you too can wind up with a DUII – even when you blow a 0.00 blood alcohol content, and no illegal drugs are found in your system.
I accompanied my shaken friend to her attorney’s office. He is one of the best criminal defense lawyers in our area. He also disagreed that any arrest or charge should have been made in her case. Despite, he told us that lawyers know better than to fight these types of cases because historically, they lose. Why? Same reason no indictments occur in cases like the Michael Brown (Ferguson) shooting. The law allows a great deal of leeway for law enforcement to do their jobs. I am sure there are plenty of people who deserve to be arrested and charged with that crime. My friend was not one of them.
Programs and radio broadcasts recently have given many other examples of valid cases where police officers had made unnecessary arrests and written unwarranted tickets, and used a level of force that was not needed. For anyone to say that they support every single police officer or every person of color is prejudice. It requires making a statement about people you do not know, people you will never meet. That is judging someone before you know the facts. And that…is prejudice.
Conversely, people of color claiming they are “always” victims of officers is also showing prejudice. It is, in fact, the very prejudice they ask that others do not display toward them. My thought in seeing such outcry from both the black and white communities on this issue is that we can get much further leaving the race card out of the conversation entirely.
There is good and bad in every race, every career, everything. For any of us to stand in opposition of one group or another requires an act of prejudice.
All said, I decided not to put my dog in this fight. I did, however, take one action in response to these controversies. In perusing my Facebook news feeds the past few months, I saw countless posts from people who had either taken the side of law enforcement against the black community, or visa versa. Those posts were harsh, hateful and attacking. They said that anyone who disagreed with their very strong opinions should just unfriend them right now.
And so, I did.