The Time Is Now To Voice Support For Our Law enforcement!
As we approach the summer of 2015 it is significant to know, as research studies show, that violent crimes occur at a higher rate in the summer season than any other season. There is a current heightened dissatisfaction and anger among some individuals, groups and communities across America toward law enforcement officers.
Distain, threats and acts of violence against police have existed for decades whether it is state, county, district, municipality, university or other special police jurisdiction where uniformed officers are on duty to protect, serve and maintain order. However, in light of extensive media coverage of a few fatal shootings of unarmed minorities in high crime areas by police officers, there are rumblings of reprisal against police. In fact, following these high profile police shootings of suspects, nearly a dozen police officers have been murdered or injured in the line of duty in a variety of circumstances across America. No law enforcement officer anywhere any time is immune.
Though the issues are complex and reactions often political and racial, unbiased leadership is needed. The time is now for strong decision making which may not be politically correct or socially satisfying to those who blame bad behavior on everything and everyone except the perpetrators of crime. Absolutely, there are poor communities in most every state, some schools fail to teach children to read, some parents fail to instill good values and respect for authority and the prevalence of illegal drugs entices children and young adults. These indeed need the attention of community, church and government leaders. Hundreds of valid studies have been conducted about crime, crime trends, offender characteristics, victimization profiles, conditions which are causal effects and the high cost of crime to include incarceration. We already know who is committing most violent crimes, we know the typical victims and, in general, where and when these crimes occur.
Highly respected Sheriff David Clark of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin was invited to speak to the United States Judiciary Committee on issues of crime and violence and allegations of widespread police prejudice and excessive force, particularly aimed at minority individuals. He said that our public officials and socially liberal-leaning talking heads do not acknowledge the “elephant in the living room”. This, he said, is the reality of black-on-black violence at alarming rates. He told Committee members that root causes include a growing and self-perpetuating culture of victimization and dependence on the federal government. Sheriff Clark summed up his remarks by stating that “Such sub-human behavior in a sub-culture of celebrating bad behavior is the result of years of liberal policy making.” Incidentally, Sheriff Clark is black.
And Montgomery’s new Police Chief, Ernest N. Finley, Jr. says, "My vision is to guide and direct our MPD to provide customer service to our residents here…and also to reduce crime through community engagement." The last thing is to really develop partnerships."
These issues have worsened increasingly over decades. They will not be solved soon despite the urgency of a potential rise in violence within communities toward police. However, a few observations may be in order as we seek to reduce more incidents as occurred in Baltimore Maryland where a young black man died during an arrest which involved six police officers – three black officers and three white officers all of whom were arrested and charged in less than 48 hours with numerous crimes.
In a predominately black community of Baltimore hundreds of mostly young black men assaulted police officers, demolished and burned down businesses and looted stores in a three-block area. The reason given to media representatives was that police targeted blacks and used excessive force.
The Mayor of Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake responded with outrage toward the Baltimore Police Department even though her Police Chief, Anthony Batts is also black. Mayor Rawlings-Blake called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department which is majority minority! The first observation is that elected leaders at the top of any government have the responsibility to insure that every department, to include the police, are effective in carrying out their duties fairly in their dealings with all citizens. The point is that the Mayor through her Police Chief had the authority and responsibility to correct any deficiencies within the Police Department as the Chief of Police felt necessary to resolve any alleged police misconduct. A second observation is that the Mayor and Police Chief should have been proactive within any disgruntled community members seeking to resolve complaints while making a strong statement that the Baltimore Police Department had her full support. This may well have changed negative perceptions toward police officers.
There will always be crime. There will continue to be an anti-police perception since they represent authority and so many citizens, both black and white, resent authority. Yet, we do know that it is the responsibility of every elected official in every jurisdiction whether an elected Sheriff, Mayor, County Commission, or Governor to make sure those who are sworn to protect and serve do so with respect and fairness to all citizens. Right now all good law enforcement officers need our support. They are not black or white. They are all blue!
David Nichols, Ed. D., is a veteran law enforcement officer and leader. He began as a municipal police officer and served most of this career as a University Police Chief and/or a university administrator to whom the Police Chief reported. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Quantico, VA. Nichols served as a consultant to municipal (to include Wetumpka P.D.) and university police agencies, an expert witness on crime-related cases, a presenter at several police academies and conferences.