Forty Years

Time does indeed pass in the blink of an eye. It was forty years ago on this date I began my career with the East Providence Police Department.

Patch old
Original patch when I started

Forty years.

It doesn’t seem possible.

To serve on a police department, while challenging, terrifying, hysterically comical, and, too often, heart-breaking, it is also the front row seat to the most amazing show on earth.

Police officers see things most people couldn’t ever imagine. It is a reality few ever experience.

There were moments of profound helplessness and sadness.

A few days after my wife and I discovered she was pregnant, I responded to a medical call. I was the first one there.  As I walked in the house, a hysterical woman handed me a very cold, very dead, four-month-old child.

A SIDS death.

I can still hear the whole family screaming at me to save that child.

No one could, but they expected a cop to try.

There were moments of humor some would find abhorrent, but in the midst of a bloody fatal car accident, or suicide, or homicide, it keeps cops sane.

Without attributing this to any specific department or individual, I heard a story that illustrates cop humor.

It would seem there was this old school detective who, at the end of each day, would light his pipe and smoke at his desk as he did his daily reports (they did that back then in the dark ages.) Part of his routine was to prepare the pipe beforehand so it would be ready when he returned.

Some officers noticed this pattern and wondered what would happen if some of the tobacco was replaced with some excellent quality marijuana from a disposed case.

This was done with great stealth and cunning.

The detective returned, lit the pipe, and within a few moments the squad smelled like a 1970’s college dormitory. We, ah, they found this hysterical. But the best moment came when the Detective Commander, an old school guy, walked out of his office and said,

“Hey (name withheld to protect the innocent) what’s that tobacco you’re smoking?”

“Why?” said the now relaxed and happy for the first time in years detective.

“Cause my kid has incense that smells like that.”

The room, I hear, roared with the laughter of those in on the gag.

We had our moments.

There was great satisfaction in bringing cases to a full conclusion after a lengthy trial and the professional reward of a job well done.

In the twenty years I served on the East Providence Police Department, I worked with a fantastic group of men and women.

I stood shoulder to shoulder with them in those moments of terror.

We took a stand when those who would corrupt and corrode the department for their own political purposes refused to follow the law and forced them to leave when no one thought we could.

I was privileged to work with other local, state, and federal agencies experiencing the true nature and potential of cooperation in seeking justice.

I spent twenty years catching bad guys with some of the most exceptional people I have ever had the privilege to know.

Time has allowed me to reflect on those moments. Yet, no matter how bad some days and nights were, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

Pro Bono Publico.

Patch new
The patch today

How Fake News Kills Cops

The prevailing trend to choose what one believes in the media is not just problematic, it is dangerous.

According to some media outlets, there are two virulent plaques in America. The first is that the police are killing people in the course of their duties more than ever before. And that there is a racial bias to the shootings.

This is not just false, it is demonstrably false based on many data sources from official government agencies to multiple media outlets that show a consistent reduction in these incidents.

statistic_id585152_people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-2017-2018-by-race

https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/

The second dangerous misconception is that the number of officers killed in the line of duty is higher than it’s ever been and rising. Again, the premise is not supported by the numbers.

US officers killed as the result of crime, 1970-2015

(Green) Officers killed as result of crime      (Red) Preceding 10-year average

Cops killed

http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/

Preliminary 2018 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities 

January 1 through July 15, 2018 vs. January 1 through July 15, 2017

2018 2017 % Change
Total Fatalities 76 73 +4%
Firearms-related 32 27 +19%
Traffic-related 27 28 -4%
Other causes 17 18 -6%

Please note: These numbers reflect total officer fatalities comparing
January 1 through July 15, 2018 vs. 
January 1 through July 15, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36826297

Now, this is where these two fallacies form a deadly combination. The perception of those inclined to unlawfully possess firearms or otherwise commit a crime, when confronted by police officers, tend toward a more violent level of resistance.

From the officer’s perspective, they anticipate each confrontation likely will pose a deadly threat to themselves or their fellow officers. Officers aren’t trained to apply different risk assessments of suspects based on skin tone. We teach them that every encounter is a potentially deadly one. It is a necessary survival mindset, but one that must be tempered by experience and sound judgment.

When officers operate in an environment rife with false or inflated perceptions of risk, the appropriate level of caution and tactics may be unreasonably amplified.

The false perception of a problem, promulgated and promoted by the media frenzy,  masks the reality and the results are deadly.

There is also the political factor officers face; both internal and external. Politicians and some members of the command staff, far removed from the realities of the street, are quick to criticize officers for political expediency or job preservation. Decisions made in difficult circumstances under enormous pressure with mere seconds to choose are autopsied for days by people who may have never found themselves in such situations.

Thus officers confront the perfect storm; all-to-common violent behavior by individuals with no respect for law, an atmosphere charged with perceived high levels of risk, and the possibility of being thrown to the wolves by politics.

Is it any wonder officers are shying away, either intentionally or by direction, from effective street policing. As a friend of mine, a former supervisor with a federal agency, liked to say, “Big cases, big problems. Little cases, little problems. No cases, no problems.”

Officers have the right to live and to protect themselves. We owe them the opportunity to do their job based on sound judgment and accurate information.

The loss of any officer is a tragedy. Even with the number of officers being killed showing a decline, one is too many.

Police officers must face the reality of the number of weapons, both legal and illegal, in this country. This almost guarantees a tragedy. Whether it is a felon with an extensive and repetitive criminal record on the street because of the incestuous nature of the lawyers (prosecutors and defense counsel) and judges minimizing cases for expediency or an angry and distraught individual, absent any prior criminal record, the guns pose a danger.

Add into the mix a “corrections” system that in many instances in nothing more than an advanced degree program for crime and you have all the ingredients for a fatal encounter.

Combine the misconceptions of these false and fable-like stories with the prevalence of weapons in America and tragic incidents like the most recent shooting of an officer and an innocent bystander in Weymouth, MA will become more and more common. The trend toward fewer police-suspect confrontations will end and likely grow.

Cops will die all because of a lie.

 

A Simple Gesture

Police Officers are often confronted with horrors and tragedy that can sap their humanity. To survive, they adopt a tough and calloused veneer. Yet, there are moments when they show us that most of them are truly caring and kind.

I am a proud retired member of the East Providence (RI) Police department_35. A simple gesture by current members of that department reminds us that, above all else, police officers are human.

On a hill overlooking the city of Providence, in view of Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the men and women of the East Providence Police Department assemble for a weekly tradition.

As darkness falls, the line of cruisers come to life with their red and blue emergency lights. The sky lights up and, across the bay, the children of the hospital receive a heartfelt goodnight from the officers.

There’s a video that shows the images but it cannot capture the emotion of the moment.

Cops wishing a goodnight to kids facing things most of us cannot begin to imagine. The officers standing on the hill, lit up by the flashing red and blue, let those kids know that the thin blue line remembers them.

Need to know what a good cop looks like? Take a moment to watch that hill.

(Requiescat in Pace TJ)

Two Cops got Shot the Other Day

Two Boston Cops got shot the other day

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Not one street protest about how their lives matter.

Not one demand for stricter controls on the kind of person who shot them or the weapons he used.

No crowds of thousands holding hands and praying.

No chanting of “No Justice, No Peace.”

Three families face their worst nightmare. The two officers’ families and the bigger family that is the thin blue line.

The only ones that seem to care are those cops that ran toward gunfire when everyone else ran away.

Where do we find such people willing to risk their lives to save others?

Most of the world hid or tried to video it with cell phones, while brave men and women ran into the line of fire.

They face these dangers alone, comforted only by a thin blue line.

The media will take notice, for fifteen seconds, then resume covering some divorce nonsense of people paid to pretend to be something they are not.

Sorry if we inconvenienced watching “The Voice” or the rest of the drivel that most are so enamored with.

Two cops got shot the other day and there was hardly a pause in this callous world.

The Whole World is Watching (Again)

(For added special effect, here’s a link to Chicago’s “The Whole World is Watching.” Just skip the ad if it pops up, let the music start, then read away)

During the first presidential campaign debate, Donald Trump answered the question about the future direction of America by favoring stronger law and order. His answer implied that the law enforcement community is either unwilling or unable to provide what he considers acceptable law and order.

His obvious scorn for preparation for the debate was on stark display with that pronouncement.

In 1984 President Reagan signed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. This was a wide-ranging consolidation of penalties for criminal violations, started a more widespread use of forfeiture of properties and assets of organized crime, and reinstituted the federal death penalty.

In 1994 President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.  The bill was a reaction to the increase in violent crime and rising homicide rate in the US. This created a set of minimum mandatory sentences, increased use of electronic surveillance, and increased federal aid to state and local law enforcement.

Proponents argued, despite recognizing there would be a significant impact on minority communities, that each of these bills had the support of minority legislators and community leaders.

This is only partially true.

While many minority members of Congress voted for the legislation, they argued for added provisions including increasing aid to education, job training, and programs aimed at reducing poverty.

These provisions were never incorporated.

Which leads me to the point of how Trump panders to lowest common denominator with each position he takes. In this case, the strong law enforcement crowd. They see themselves as the solution to the crime problem. In fact, they, like the previously mentioned laws, are reactions to the problem.

They are not the solution; they are one element of the solution to a complex problem.

You can flood the neighborhoods of the south side of Chicago, or anywhere else, with an army of cops and lessen the number of incidents of violence. Yet the problem will remain.

Law and Order is not a solution; it is a TV show. And like a TV show, it is not reality. It replaces the truth with fantasy.  A fantasy embraced by those seeking a quick solution to an embedded and difficult problem.

There’s a line in the movie, Fort Apache: The Bronx, about the former 41st precinct in New York. One officer, experienced and jaundiced by the reality of the time, explained to another officer, “We’re not a police department. We are an army of occupation.”

Like other armies of occupation, the Police Department soon realized that occupation is a short-term strategy. Eventually, they had to address the root cause. Police departments are ill-equipped to deal with these endemic problems.

Yet Trump would suggest stronger law and order is the answer.

We need to recognize that armed response to violence is not a solution, it is a placebo. We need to reduce the culture of violence and prevent those conditions which foster it from arising again.

We need to learn from the successes and mistakes of the past to create a more responsive and effective law enforcement model.

By all measures, the 1984 and 1994 crime measures both offered fixes to short-term problems and exacerbated the deeper, underlying causes. While some credit the passage of these laws with the reduction of violent crime, an equal number point out that the decrease in violent crime was already underway.

Through what amounted to a trick of accounting, we removed thousands of people from the welfare system by putting them in prison. And put them back in prison when, on release, they were unable to find jobs and re-offended.

Then, we turned the prison system into a for-profit enterprise. I have no doubt we could find a cost-saving method of implementing the death penalty through the private sector as well. Capitalism at its finest.

Despite the braggadocio of Trump, you cannot solve poverty with prisons, embrace enforcement of laws without also embracing education, or create “armies of occupation” as solutions to the racism and hopelessness of a segment of American society.

“Law and order” solution to crime is like injecting morphine into a broken arm.  The pain is gone. The underlying problem still there, waiting to reemerge when the medication wears off. The problem, like the pain, will be worse.

Recent events would suggest the medication has worn off.

Trump touts the endorsement of organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police as validation of his position. I think it more a sign that the Fraternal Order of Police has lost sight of its true purpose in pursuit of empty promises of more cops.

If Trump had his way, there’d be thousands of more cops on the street. But if I were them I’d be worried how, or if, he would find a way to pay for them. Look at his business “success.” He contracts for something, then refuses to pay for it.

Listen to his own words about paying taxes. He doesn’t pay them because he’s smart. Those same taxes that go to support law enforcement. Trump doesn’t put any value on them. He merely panders to an unsophisticated, narrow-minded, short-sighted mentality.

No one had a stronger law and order approach to crime than the Gestapo or the KGB. Crime was rare in Moscow. Paris was almost crime-free during the occupation. Crime is pretty low in Pyongyang as well.

That’s strong law and order.

The law and order pronouncements of Donald Trump invoke the chilling echoes of a Final Solution.

Is that the kind of America we want?

 

 

Some Inconvenient Truths

Here are some of the inconvenient truths within the terroristic end-of-the- world we-have-to-kill-them  before they kill us nonsense arising from the media driven hysteria surrounding the criminal act in San Bernardino.

Syed Rizwan Farook, the male half of the criminal duo, was an American citizen. Born to Pakistani parents who, by all accounts, lived here legally.

He travelled, under a passport of the United States, to Saudi Arabia and returned with a woman, Tashfeen Malik. Subsequently marrying her.

He was estranged from his father because of his parents divorce. He apparently had selective adherence to who needs to die according to the Quran

Farook, as a citizen of the United States of America, exercised his Second Amendment rights and purchased weapons.

A whole bunch of weapons. And ammuntion. And other things protected by that untouchable Second Amendment.

So far, everything he did was well within his rights as an American.

And as someone who was not American, so well said, “There’s the rub…”

His mistake, in the eyes of the hysteria gripping this country all out of proportion to the perceived problem, was being Muslim.

They are all EVIL if I believe what I see in the reaction to this horrific act.

Those that hold the Second Amendment as inviolate have a problem.

They have to choose between an absolute right of Americans, absent a criminal record, to buy as many firearms and as much ammunition as they want, or acquiescing to a limit. Or worse, monitoring.

I have a more modest proposal.

Let’s just eliminate Muslims. They are obviously the problem. Even those that were born here. They’ve been bred to hate us.

They worship the wrong god.

Their book, the Quran, is filled with hatred.

Unlike the good book. The several thousand versions of the Bible.

They need to be eliminated from the earth. They are a scourge upon our planet. They are not American.

As Pope Urban II so well said when he launched the first crusade. “Tear that land from the wicked race and subject it to yourselves.” He just didn’t realize he was talking about the good old US of A.

There, indeed, is the rub.

No doubt some took those words to heart. Damn straight, this in ‘Merica. Screw them!

There are Americans that wave the flag, clothe themselves in the Constitution, and believe in a divine right to the freedoms of this country who would so quickly deny the same benefit to others by virtue of their embracing a different religious doctrine.

It’s not like we’ve never done it before.

They would do this because a few within Islam embrace violence.

Islam is not alone in those of the faithful that prefer the sword to a peaceful tolerance of difference. The Westboro Baptist Kooks come to mind.

What happened in California was a criminal act. If inspired by a god, that says more about the danger of believing in gods then some would care to admit. What matters is not the reason they acted the way they did, but the fact that they committed a crime and did it intentionally.

I am glad the cops ended it the way they did. I’m glad they had the training, tools, and courage to do so.

I do not want anyone to determine someone deserves such a response by the police simply because they are Muslim.

If those so quick to post and tweet and blog and Instagram ever bothered to understand the way the American justice system works beyond what they see on television or the movies, they would understand that the court does not care what religion you adhere to.

It does not matter what you believe.

It does not matter what god you worship.

As a matter of law, your faith is meaningless before the court.

What matters is evidence. Does it prove you committed the crime?

There was a time in this country when being black was an automatic guilty. That fact continues to haunt justice in this country.

Do we really want to add the color of your faith to the problem?

If you are comfortable with the government deciding what beliefs are dangerous, whether or not you act on them, you are a fool.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who are willing to trade freedom for security, will have neither.”

I say, “those that are willing to trade someone else’s freedom will someday find themselves losing their own.”

I have no qualms with the way Mr. and Mrs. Farook left this mortal coil.

I thank the officers that did what cops do, running toward danger when everyone else runs away. They are the best example of the greatness of America.

I do not want them turned into an American Gestapo, seizing people by virtue of their heritage rather than their actions.

But the inconvenient truth is an American citizen, born here, raised here, exercised his sacrosanct Second Amendment right.

How do we fix that without becoming a disciple of Big Brother?

Selective Outrage

Once again this country is subjected to a dramatic incident of violence. In the rush to be first, the media outlets broadcast a constantly changing cacophony of half-truths and rumors.

Compounding the problem are the bloggers and reporter wannabes in their insular  agenda-driven worlds.

They were practically salivating at the conveniently ethnic origin of the suspect’s name. Whether it has any bearing on the truth or not.

Better to be first, than right.

The inevitable outcry by competing interests will flood the broadcast, print, and social media.

“More Gun Control!” “Less Gun Control!”

“Take away guns and only criminals will have guns.”

“Stop the Insanity”

“Guns don’t kill people, GMO’s do”

They’ll be the usual talk from the opposing political views that either this whole thing is Obama’s fault, or this is the consequence of interpreting the Second Amendment as inviolate.

And then it will fade away. The headline will be replaced, as it always is, by some other tragedy or scandal.

What happened in San Bernadino is a tragedy. A sad example of how much mankind has to go before they can truly be called civilized. Whatever fruitcake philosophy compelled these actions, be it a misinterpretation of religious doctrine or simple prejudice against those who are different, is repulsive.

How we respond will either set the course for positive change or doom us to an uncertain future.

Many will focus solely on classifying this as terrorism and incite the country to use its powerful military forces and bomb something, anything.

Somewhere else of course.

Nothing like the satisfaction one gets from watching the video of a cruise missile launch or a night-vision view of a target being obliterated.

But that will only mask the underlying problem.

The real tragedy here is that we fail to notice this is happening almost every day in our cities. In Chicago for the month of November this is what we apparently missed in the FOX, MSNBC, and CNN headlines.

Thirty-two people were shot and killed

One hundred and sixty-six were shot and wounded

That’s almost two hundred people and that’s just one city. That sounds like the statistics from a war zone. I dare say it is more dangerous to walk some neighborhoods in Chicago than it is in Kabul.

America can, and should, be better than that.

The necessary discussion on dealing with the very real problem of violence in this country will never happen as long as it is headline driven.

Be it a rational approach to firearms, the issue of racism or the propensity toward violence to settle differences, we need to use our intelligence and common sense here.

Not emotionally driven hyperbole.

We need to focus on the underlying problem. It is critical to the survival of this country. More so than idiotic causes that politicians so love to use to divert us from the real issue. The solutions are not easy, they are not found on Facebook and Twitter. They require thinking and courage. Surely there is an abundance of that in a free country.

Many good people turn to prayer at a time like this. But as the Dali Lama so well said,

“We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.”

Whether you believe or not, doesn’t matter to me. Whether you care enough to think this problem through and seek a solution does.

And one last point. You know who ran toward the carnage and danger when everyone else ran away?

Cops.

There are some dramatic images of the courage demonstrated by the officers involved. It would be nice if more people understood that is what cops do every day. And appreciated it.

 

 

 

 

 

Dilemma

This is from a series of short stories I am working on. Posted here for your reading pleasure and review.  All comments welcome.

My cell rang. I didn’t recognize the number. Thought about ignoring it, then decided to give the telemarketer some shit.

“Hello.”

“Tommy, AJ.”

“AJ? What’s this a new phone?”

“I need your help.” AJ’s tone imparted a more serious patina to the four simple words.

“You always need my help,” I answered. “What is it this time, you get thrown out again?”

“Come outside, I’m parked in the lot across the street.

“Why are you parked across the street?” I asked. Silence. After a moment, I realized he’d ended the call.

Grabbing my jacket, I walked to the door. “Where are you off to?” my wife asked.

“I don’t know. That was AJ, said he needs help with something.”

My wife put her hands on her hips, “Tommy, I don’t care what he’s done this time, no money. Promise me.”

I smiled, “No money, I learned my lesson with his last scam,” I opened the door, the cool fall air rushing in. “I’ll be right back.”

Walking down the driveway, I looked across the street. AJ was leaning against the hood of his car, arms folded around himself, staring at the ground. As I got closer, he heard my footsteps and stood.

I’ve read that ninety percent of communication is non-verbal. AJ’s body was telling me this was not one of his ordinary, self-created problems.

“Hey man, what’s up?”

“Tom, Tommy,” AJ stuttered, glancing around. “I need help buddy. Big time. Can you take a ride with me?”

I saw something in his eyes I’d never seen before, genuine fear. This was a man who once took on three bikers in a bar and got his ass kicked. He returned two days later looking for the three bikers. The same thing happened. He went back several more times, but the bikers never showed up again.

They must have recognized crazy.

AJ wasn’t afraid of anything.

“A ride, where?”

“Please man, just come with me.” His body language now in full alarm mode.

“Ah, okay. Let me call Karen. Tell her I’ll be gone for a bit. Where we going anyway?”

“No,” AJ shouted, then glanced around. “No calls.”

“No calls?” I replied. “If you want me to go with you I will after I call my wife. A philosophy you should have adopted years ago. Saved yourself a ton of trouble.”

I could see AJ’s mind racing as he paced back and forth. “Okay, tell her I need help moving something, that’s all.”

I stood there a moment, holding my phone, studying my now frantic friend. Shaking my head, I pushed the call button. “Hey, it’s me. AJ needs me to help him move something. What? I don’t know, hang on,” holding the phone away from my ear I said. “She wants to know what you need moved. How long will it take?”

AJ threw his arm up, slapping them back to his side. “I don’t know, something heavy. You’ll be back in, ah, a couple of hours.”

“There’s a bunch of stuff, I guess. Won’t take long,” listening to her response I smiled at AJ. “Yeah I know; I don’t have any money anyway. I’ll call on the way back.” I walked to the passenger side. “Okay AJ, tell me the story. What’d you do?”

“First, turn off your cell.”

“I’m not turning off my cell, asshole. What is this about?”

“Look, trust me on this. You’ll understand shortly,” pointing with his hand at my phone. “Turn it off and pull the battery. Then I’ll tell you what this is about.”

*****

“You what?” I said, shaking my head and looking out the window. “I don’t believe this. You’re kidding,” trying to gauge the look on his face.

“I’ll show you,” he said as we pulled into a dirt road used by off-road vehicles.

“You can’t drive this thing down here,” I said, my hand on the dash as AJ dodged the ruts and dips in the dirt track.

“Yes I can, I checked this out before.”

“You checked this out… I don’t believe this.”

Checking the rearview mirror, AJ drove several hundred yards. Making sure we were far beyond the houses bordering the property.

“Ready?”

“AJ, please tell me this is all bullshit.”

“Look,” he said, opening the door.

I watched as he walked around to the back of the car, motioning for me to join him

I opened the door, put one foot on the ground, glanced over my right shoulder at AJ as he looked all around the area.

I got out and stood next to him.

“Ready?”

I laughed. “Okay, you got me. What’s the joke?”

I heard the click of the trunk release, watching as it popped up. AJ reached over, opening the trunk.

As I looked in, my mind went into denial.

I looked from the trunk to AJ and back. Voices in my head screamed, ‘Run, you idiot, run.” But my legs remained paralyzed in place. I tried to speak, but my throat was sand. I tasted the adrenaline rushing through my body. The fight or flight response to my brain’s recognizing a problem.

A big problem.

“I had to do it, Tommy. He beat her, put her in the hospital, he molested my granddaughter.”

Words eluded me. I backed away, trying to absorb the reality.

“Tommy, I need you to help me here. I need help getting rid of it.”

For fifty years, AJ had been my best friend. We had grown from GI Joes and baseball to girls and beer to married with kids, together. We’d spent twenty years together as cops, righting wrongs, trying to make a difference.

He’d been there when my first wife died of cancer. He held me in his arms, covered in my blood from the bullet wound in my arm, when they drove me to the hospital.

Never leaving my side.

But this? This was beyond it all. This was too much. I knew the stories. The hospital visits to his daughter. The on again off again boyfriend sliding through the system.

But this? They say friends will be there when you most need them. But this?

As my heart rate slowed, the rationale me resumed control. The panic passed and the realization of the choice I faced came clear.

I knew what I had to do.

I looked at my friend. The tears welled up, the emotions uncontrollable. I took a deep breath and walked back to the car.

“AJ, I’m sorry.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone, walking to the side of the car, away from my best friend.

His eyes showed regret as the enormity of what he asked, what he’d done, set in.

I tossed the phone on the seat. Reaching into the back seat, I grabbed the two shovels and the bag of lime.  I’d spotted them when I got in the car. Hoping I was wrong.

Walking to AJ, I handed him a shovel.

“That’s what friends are for.”

 

 

Another Person of Color Shot and Killed in a Police Involved Situation: Where’s the Outrage?

A person of color was killed the other day. Thirty years old, shot and killed for being the wrong color. The media coverage, non-existent.

The attention span of this country to this problem apparently exhausted.

We are more inclined to Twitter and Text and Facebook and Instagram reactions to a former NBA star’s overdose on cocaine and herbal Viagra while cavorting with hookers then on another senseless police involved death of a person of color.

The silence is deafening.

No White House press conference or immediate dispatch of officials to decry the violence.

No men of the cloth screaming about the injustice of this death.

No cries of publicity hungry hordes with #OnlySomeLivesMatter signs.

Nothing. Just another dead man of color.

Why the absence of outrage, the lack of virulent calls for justice, no demands for severe punishment for the perpetrator?

Because he was the wrong color. Officer Randolph Holt was a person of color in the blue uniform of a NYPD Officer. Shot by a man that a failed and corrupt justice system, controlled by callous Judges and attorneys with influence, put back on the street. A system focused on expediency rather than protecting us from those that would do harm.

A person of color died the other day, and no one gives a damn except his family and those that share the burden of the badge.

It is clear that #SomeLivesMatterMore

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How Can There be Good Cops, If There are Bad Cops?

I read an opinion piece the other day from the Bangor (ME) Times entitled, The False Message from those ‘Good Cop’ Stories? Things Aren’t So Bad by Heather Denkmire.

Here is the link and I encourage you to read it before you continue with my take on the author’s message.

http://bangordailynews.com/2015/08/05/opinion/contributors/the-false-message-from-those-good-cop-stories-things-arent-so-bad/

My first reaction on reading this was one of profound confusion. How can reports about the many good police officers and their acts of kindness and caring be a bad thing? If all we do is focus on the bad things, it distorts reality.

On reflection, I realized she had a valid point. Not the one she intended and I am sure one she does not even realize she made.

Her premise is clear, reporting stories of a Police Officer acting in some kind and considerate manner does detract from the issue of violence involving officers and civilians, too often civilians of color.

However, the problem is not that the media reports these stories, the problem is the author’s assumptions that all encounters between a police officer and a person of color are motivated by racism.

Ms. Denkmire writes,

“My daughter just heard a radio story about how a police officer who murdered a black man was having trouble finding a job. She found it troubling that the news story was focusing on the murderer’s “difficulties.”

Herein lies the problem. Taken at face value, this paragraph says a police officer murdered a black man and was having trouble finding a job. The statement implies the officer was “convicted” of murder. If that were the case, either the incident happened a long time ago and the former officer is now out of jail, or the statement is misleading. I think it equally possible the officer resigned due the incident, or was forced out by political expediency. Either explanation is viable.

Police use of deadly force is a serious and difficult issue. It would be naïve to assume that all such incidents are investigated as thoroughly as they should be. The benefit of media attention is clear, however media attention that meets standards of good reporting, not a Twitter feed or Facebook rant with questionable images.

The author also bemoans the unequal reporting of black as opposed to white murder suspects.

“We had talked before about the different ways the media portrayed white killers compared with black victims; for example, how Dylann Roof was shown opening Christmas gifts while the media use and crop images of black victims in ways that imply they are not entirely innocent. That kind of biased reporting is pretty standard.”

This is the problem with her premise. The very issue she points out here, about biased or slanted reporting, is the issue. She just has the real point wrong.

Here is an example of two headlines, same incident.

White Police Officer Shoots Fleeing Black Suspect in the Back

Same story, different headline.

Police Officer Returns Fire, Killing Gunman.

The tone of the first headline stirs emotion and the writer chose the words to generate interest in the story (that translates into sales). The second is the same set of facts but presented as just that, facts. Not an editorial comment implying wrongdoing by the officer (or highlighting the race of either party as being significant).

Now, I completely agree with the writer’s point that the incidence of violent confrontations between police and persons of color are, statistically, significantly higher than those between the police and a white person.

As Mark Twain once said, “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Here is an example, police officers kill more white suspects than suspects of color. The “statistics” bear this out. However, examine the numbers in depth, as a percentage of the population minority suspects are more likely to be confronted with a violent response. Both statistically accurate.

The perception by some officers that persons of color represent a higher threat is a difficult one to overcome, and wrong. Here is the sad reality, according to data from the FBI, though African Americans are arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than whites, the majority of assailants who feloniously killed police officers in the past year were white.

There is a serious problem with racial bias in this country. Complaining that positive stories about the police ignores the issue, or minimizes its severity, is nonsense.

If you have read the article, it is clear the author holds a dim view of the police. She can barely concede that most officers are well intentioned and honest.

Therefore, I applaud her bringing the issue to the forefront. Underreporting or ignoring the issue is wrong. Portraying the issue as being solely the fault of the police is equally wrong. In fact, it is dangerous.

The only way to deal with this problem in the long term is through education. Racism is a learned behavior; no one is born racist, children are indoctrinated with it. In the short term, focused and impartial attention to the police and better training is the key.

The media needs to report factually and without sensationalizing stories. However, we all know what should happen and what does happen are two mutually exclusive things.

The police are not your enemy and people of all race and ethnic origin need be treated the same. If you break the law, your skin color should not have any effect on the disposition of the case. The numbers are clear. Perhaps we should focus on the inequities in the judicial system more closely since that is the only forum in which unlawful actions by the police should be addressed. Not on the street with a crowd of cell phone equipped people relying on legal advice from a Facebook post.

Here is my last statistic; there are 765,000 (approx.) sworn law enforcement officers in the US. Statistically speaking the overwhelming majority of them will NEVER kill anyone in their career. Nevertheless, I am willing to bet every single one of them will do something good almost every day in that same career.