Recently I posted an opinion on a Face Book post that expressed my solidarity with the movement to hold police accountable for their actions. Immediately an individual responded that I should “preach elsewhere”. The following thread made it clear that some in our community feel that of you advocate for police accountability you are anti police.
This line of logic tempts people to believe that if you support accountability you are one of the bad guys. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I consider my position as pro police. After viewing dozens of videos of police abusing restrained subjects who pose no threat, the very idea that confronting such behavior is “anti police” is misleading at best.
In my professional life I am often in the position of supervising a great group of federal officers, to a person they are professional, respectful and focused on the safety of the community. Opposing police violence is about supporting the great officers in our communities. Daily, officers are faced with the toxic choice of supporting fellow officers who behave badly or loosing the respect of other officers for their choice to report abusive behavior. This “thin blue line” ethic is destructive to other officers, our community and the overall reputation of police officers nation wide.
Each of us should guard against the kind of logic that urges us to disregard the facts in favor of an approach that blindly advocates for maintaining a system that is clearly in need of repair. Answers are available, body cameras for police that have a 2-minute delay when turned off, support for officers who come foreword with reports of abuse and outside review boards that have no connection to involved departments are great places to start.
To those who oppose accountability I would say the same thing police officers say to suspects,” if you have done nothing wrong, there is nothing to fear from accountability.”
The current situation in which honest officers are afraid to report abuse must change. When the day comes that dishonest officers are afraid of honest officers reporting them we will have established a policing system that reflects the values that our nation holds as important.
Today I stand in support of all the great police officers out there and will continue working towards the day when they have nothing to fear from a system that allows abusive officers to put them in situations that compromise their values. It is my hope that, within our collective community, others will also acknowledge that what they are working towards is a day when interactions with the police stir no fear on the part of the community, only respect for the job they are doing.