A police officer friend of mine posted this picture on his Facebook. I shared it and received some question back on my stance. Allow me to answer:
I cannot understand the people who blanket hate police. Don't they realize there are bad apples in every profession? Don't they realize that simplistic answers like, disarm the police, offer no real world practical answer to the fact that bad guys exist? Don't they realize that demonizing the police only increases the likelihood of bad cops where working as a community lessons the likelihood of corrupt departments? Don't they realize that police officers are people who live in the neighborhoods too? Don't they realize that our incarceration rate demonstrates precisely that there isn't a lot of corruption in the police force compared to other places where bribery and corruption is rampant?
Absolutely a police department can become corrupt and a city can become a police state. Its actually quite easy. We see it in all sorts of groups. Churches become cults. Companies become fraudulent. Government agencies become abusive. Leaders at the top create a culture that coercively adjusts people’s behavior, either in a good way or a bad one. You see it with companies that treat their employees well and churches that do service in the community. Those are good examples. Then you have situations like Goldman Sachs and Wall Street at the start of the recession. Or that famous evil church who I won’t name because I refuse to draw attention to them. Or Ferguson Police. Or other Police departments such as the two in Florida who were just disbanded because of corruption.
What can we do about it?
First let’s take some thought about the real situation.
The profession of police officer is already a difficult one. Consider having to wade day in and day out in the worst that humanity has to offer. Seeing abused wives and children. Seeing dead babies. Seeing people who have lost everything because of a wrong choice. (In many ways, the pastoral profession can get this way too.)
Consider also the fact that NO ONE wants to see a cop in their rear view mirror. How often are they yelled at, cussed at, and treated like dirt? Think of the names, Five-O, Pig, etc.
Consider that they have to be right in split second decisions 100% of the time and will get criticized in the media and courts by people who have hours and days to think through and review their decisions minus adrenaline, fear, and other pressures. Or that they face regular false complaints from citizens of discrimination or wrong use of force, merely because said citizen didn't like the fact that the police officer was holding them accountable for their actions. All that with the knowledge that if they make a mistake, they could die. Or someone else could die. Wow.
Police officers don’t truly “face death every day,” as an officer friend of mine told me. Many days are riddled with boredom and paperwork. HOWEVER, they face the prospect of danger on any given day and any given call. Six hours of boring duty and paperwork could suddenly result in minutes of terror and danger.
Their job results in blame sometimes no matter what they do. Arrest the bad guy and his family accuses you of discrimination or being a bully. Don’t arrest him and an hour later he has shot someone in an armed robbery. Arrest the husband who beat his wife and she turns on the officers (a common phenomenon in domestic violence). Don’t arrest the husband and later that night he beats her to death. Pull someone over for speeding and you are a petty jerk for worrying about ten miles over the limit. Don’t pull them over and then maybe face having to go to the accident scene where they hit some kids.
Is it any wonder they have such a high rate of divorce, depression, and suicide?
This all causes them to withdraw into a shell. The thin blue line is a real thing. It’s no different than with soldiers. They think no one cares. They believe, “No one understands us but each other.”
The very actions pushed by people like Al Sharpton or some of the anti-government groups (and even some of the major Democrats) are precisely the wrong choices because it exacerbates this very thing.
Jumping on every single police shooting as if it is an example of an endemic problem is not the way to go about it. Protesting without considering the case by case circumstances is wrong. Making judgements based on shaky video taken out of context and with no backstory isn’t good. Posting every copblock statement about bad cops only skews your own vision and does no good. Announcing every bad thing done in any police department everywhere and rarely if ever showing the thousands of positives that go on every day isn’t helping.
All those things do is push officers around the country more and more into that ‘thin blue line’ fortress mentality.
Lest we forget, these same men and women live in our neighborhoods. They have children and families too. They want to go home at night. They want to live without fearing crime. Just like each and every one of us!!!
Evil exists. Period. The one thing I never see from the protestors and anti-police types is an answer of how to keep our streets and families safe without some law and order. It’s called anarchy folks and guess what, those of us who desire peace will be in greater danger without police. I’ve been accused of being naïve about this. But, the truth is, I recognize that there are bad cops and even bad departments out there. Those must be aggressively rooted out, just as bad pastors, politicians, teachers, and all others who use power for evil must be rooted out. But you don’t cure cancer by killing the patient. You cure a cancer by rooting it out. I would challenge that those who make blanket statements about police are the naive ones. The old saying is ultimately true, “when you’re in trouble, you ain’t gonna call a crackhead.”
Instead of all the negative, the solution is to get involved. Get to know your local officers. Call them out for the good things. Invite your businesses, churches, and organizations to award those who do heroic things. Volunteer on the civilian review board. Advocate. Do a ride-along. Join your block watch. Attend the police community presentations that most departments do. Community is the answer. Tomorrow, our church is hosting a group called, Link In The Chain, who rally for the police because they realize that we, as a community are part of the solution.
Being part of the solution goes both ways. When the bad happens. When you do get that bad apple, we mustn’t be afraid to stand against them. A great example of that is what just happened in Phoenix with our previous Police Chief. Not only did his officers pull together to stand up to him, but members of the community, including myself did so also. Another example is our famous (or is that infamous) Sheriff Joe. Integrity for those who believe in the rule of law means calling him out for ignoring the rule of law for the last 18 months. It also means going the other way and calling out Al Sharpton and his ilk for helping to destroy the career of Darren Wilson long before the real story got out, and for not apologizing and working to make it right after the truth came out.
Ultimately, we have to quit cultivating an Us versus Them mentality in this situation. Pray for your police officers. Let them know that someone out there gives a damn. Hey, thank them for their service…even when they write you a ticket. We all want safer, healthier communities and that ONLY comes from working together. It's easy to complain, the hard thing is to stand up and get involved. Choose to be a link in the chain supporting our police and community, don't be the one who breaks the chain but provides no hope or solution in exchange.