In an unprecedented move, the Minneapolis City Council voted earlier this month to disband their police department. In its stead, they want to create a “community-led safety model.” Council members have yet to offer any details on how such a model could be feasible.
The Mayor of Minneapolis, meanwhile, is steadfast that reforms are needed but feels disbanding the police department altogether is both overly drastic and unrealistic.
For my part, I fear this action by the city of Minneapolis demonstrates that the tragic murder of George Floyd has been seized upon for justification of an intensely anti-police narrative. The idea of disbanding police departments can be added to many other drastic ideas of reform, such as slashing budgets and extreme requirements for the application of force, that would make the objective of policing communities and keeping the peace almost impossible.
It should be remembered that the object of reform is to end prejudice. This goal cannot be accomplished by introducing new forms of prejudice or by enacting punitive measures against police officers and law enforcement agencies, whose everyday bravery and service to the community go unnoticed while the disgusting actions of those who never should have put on a uniform make the headlines.
Peace and justice in a free society are achieved when each individual is judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin nor by the color of their uniform. Neither Derek Chauvin nor the officers who failed to intervene in his unlawful use of force reflect the over half a million police officers in the United States who are dedicated to community service and respond to hundreds of thousands of calls every day with no fanfare and predominantly without the use of force in their resolution.
Nor should it be the average line officer, who has carried out their duty with integrity, who faces the brunt of punitive action for any racism or prejudice that exists in a system of laws and policies they didn’t create, serially damaging their career and means of providing for their family through no fault of their own.
While police officers are the public face of our legal system, they represent only the enactment of law and public policy as handed down to them by elected officials and the judges and police chiefs they appoint.
It seems especially hypocritical that so many members of the Democratic Party have signaled their willingness to throw police officers under the bus for allegations of systemic racism when it is their party that has had economic and political control of the vast majority of America’s inner-cities for generations.
Those doing the most talking and signaling in the wake of George Floyd’s murder are, in fact, the ones who hire the police chiefs who administrate the departments, who gladly receive funds from police unions, and who craft the laws that police officers must enforce.
I can’t help but wonder why a political party, under whose watch systemic racism has been supposedly allowed to flourish and whose presidential candidate nevertheless believes they deserve the singular loyalty of all African Americans, is not facing as much, if not more, criticism than the police officers and law enforcement agencies of municipal governments under Democratic control.
If our society is to take seriously the challenges we are presented with by the shock of George Floyd’s murder, then we should take seriously the responsibility to craft meaningful and responsible paths forward. Actions whose consequences risk making inner-city criminality and societal decay much worse and whose punitive echoes make a punching bag out of some of the most selfless among us are not actions derived from a constructive mindset.
This article is taken from a segment of the June 9th issue of From the Hawk’s Nest, a bi-weekly newsletter written by Justin Stapley.
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