Unfortunately for those who make their livings off fostering divisions between social, ethnic and political groups, it always seems to take very little time for the pendulum of discord to swing back and shatter the illusions they’ve propped up.
In the case of those who have been foolishly blasting police across the country as a group simply out to kill and hurt minorities, while also justifying looting and destruction as a reasonable protest, the killing last week of two New York police officers is precisely the result was bound to come of such ridiculous attitudes.
Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated while sitting in their car by a nutjob reacting to the irresponsible behavior and attitudes expressed during some of the recent protests following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York from a chokehold by an officer.
I’m certainly not saying people aren’t entitled to their opinions as to whether these and other high-profile incidents were racially motivated police brutality or not, but the blanket hatred being spewed towards all police officers was bound to lead to offer cover to someone mentally deranged enough to do something like the murder these officers. Too many times in recent weeks I’ve heard people include in a discussion of the Brown or Garner cases by saying, “I hate the police.”
Maybe that seems like the cool thing to say, especially among people who find racial motives behind just about everything, but I wish they would stop and think about exactly what they’re saying. True, most of us don’t like authority figures telling us what to do, and because the vast majority of us only have contact with police over petty issues such as traffic violations, it’s easy to wonder why “the man” is coming down on you for going a little too fast.
But try imagining a society without police officers out patrolling the neighborhoods at 3 a.m. If we were all left to protect and serve ourselves I wonder how many “questionable” shootings there would be?
As a reporter I’ve had probably been able to meet more cops than the average bear, and I can say just as in any profession they run the gamut from great to terrible. Some get into law enforcement for the power and badge, others do it for the excitement and to help others and their community. Some are quick to get physical, others are much more patient than you would ever believe.
But one thing they all have in common is — on a daily basis —dealing with people and situations the rest of us can’t really imagine.
You want me to get out of my car at 2 a.m. and chase a guy with a gun through an abandoned building? No thanks. You want to walk up to a car full of guys suspected of having just robbed a store? Um, no.
Police might be forgiven if they start noticing similarities in the people they’re dealing with. Spinner rims, loud rap and blunts might raise more hairs on the back of a cop’s neck than an “I Love My Wife” bumper sticker and Barry Manilow pumping out of the sunroof. That’s not racial profiling, but it’s definitely behavioral profiling, and we all do it.
This isn’t a blanket defense of every cop in existence. I know there are some bad police officers. We’ve run plenty of stories about cops who’ve done crappy things, and we haven’t run enough about the good things they’ve done — because that’s what’s expected.
I don’t doubt there are some officers in this great land of ours who are prejudiced, but the concept that police are just sitting around waiting to kill black men is pretty far-fetched.
My son asked me a few weeks ago what happened in the Michael Brown case and I told him Brown robbed a store then got into a fight with a police officer and was shot while allegedly approaching the officer again. His response was, “Well you can’t get into a fight with the police.” That’s right.
He’s only 12 but I’ve taught him the same thing my father taught me — when dealing with police officers be respectful and don’t ever get physical. Brown, at 6-foot-5-inches tall and nearly 300 pounds would probably be frightening to most men. He certainly scared the storeowner and if he was coming at the officer as witnesses said, he was bound to get shot. I sincerely doubt the officer would have just stood there if Michael Brown was a huge white guy who had robbed a store, punched him in the face and was running at him. It seems ridiculous to think the officer just decided to shoot Brown because he was black, given the circumstances.
The rioting and looting — along with burning the store Brown robbed — was hardly a reasonable protest by reasonable people.
In the Garner situation it does seem the officer shouldn’t have been using a chokehold, and thoughtful protests make a lot more sense to me. But these are separate situations — just as the shooting of Gil Collar, an unarmed USA student, was, although no one burned or looted anything in Collar’s name.
Maybe some feel the murder of the two N.Y. cops is justified in a sense because they feel police can get away with mistreating citizens. And the truth is, some cops do get away with mistreating people — at least for a little while.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact the vast majority of police are doing the job they were hired to do. As in any profession some do it better than others, but I would imagine the number of officers sitting around waiting for an opportunity to abuse people is microscopic.
If you’re someone who dislikes police officers or thinks they’re too heavy-handed, take a few minutes and just consider the amount of drunken, idiotic behavior common on almost every night of the week in this town alone, not to mention criminal. Think about how you’d deal with it.
I hope those who are expressing so much disdain for police will stop and really think about who’s out there in the dark every night trying to keep the worst society has to offer from washing over the rest of us.
Maybe a little respect is due.
THE GADFLY BY LAURA RASMUSSEN
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