My default position used to be one of respect for the police. Yes, I knew there were some bad ones here and there, but my first assumption for any officer I met was that he or she deserved respect for putting his or her ass on line to serve our communities and keep us safe.
But I’ve lost that. I’m not saying all cops are bad, far from it. It’s just that the news keeps coming, over and over again, of a cop unjustly killing an unarmed black man and then getting away with it. If not killing someone, then seriously abusing their authority and using much more physical force than is needed. Now, I just can’t assume the office I meet deserves respect anymore.
I’ll regain my respect for law enforcement when current trends reverse and cops stop shooting black people first and thinking of questions later, and when they start being held accountable when they kill unarmed people unjustly.
Think I’m being unfair to the police? Well, here are the words of a former St. Louis police officer who got a first hand education into how racist and how violent that police force is, and who is now working on the problem nationwide. Read his column in the Washington Post here.
Once, I accompanied an officer on a call. At one home, a teenage boy answered the door. That officer accused him of harboring a robbery suspect, and demanded that he let her inside. When he refused, the officer yanked him onto the porch by his throat and began punching him.
Another officer met us and told the boy to stand. He replied that he couldn’t. So the officer slammed him against the house and cuffed him. When the boy again said he couldn’t walk, the officer grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him to the car. It turned out the boy had been on crutches when he answered the door, and couldn’t walk.
Back at the department, I complained to the sergeant. I wanted to report the misconduct. But my manager squashed the whole thing and told me to get back to work.