Keeping the Peace

I am seriously troubled by what's going on currently in this country when it comes to the killing of police. I have been policing for 30 years and the current climate is the most negative I have experienced during this time. I know throughout the history of policing we have seen more cops killed in the line of duty like the 1970s when we say 200-280 per year. Prior to the 1970s, the 1930s we saw numbers of officers killed in the line of duty total over 300. So despite this being the worse climate towards police I have seen our history says that is not the case. So we must keep things in context. This is not to devalue any life taken. In fact the dual value of life ours and theirs are of the utmost value. We got into policing because we believed this!

What's unique about this current trend is it’s driven by a false narrative of cops hunting down people like predators, despite the facts showing otherwise. Police use physical force in about 1.4 % of all their contacts, about 50-60 million per year. Police use of force is rare and deadly force even rarer yet .0002%. These numbers show police are very good at de-escalating crisis situations. But violence is unpredictable and police by the very nature of their jobs is forced and duty bound to handle violent encounters. This means they will be victimized by violence and dish out violence whence-de-escalation fails. The numbers show in fact, de-escalation works, so why the violence?

I received and email with an attachment from a friend of mine he titled the attachment A Short Trip to Washington. This short passage from what he wrote stuck out at me:


On my way, as I had to come to New York to get a connection to Hong Kong, I picked up a book entitled "Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin" In one of the chapters, entitled Protest Poetry, by Amiri Baraka, there is the following quote:

"As long as the oppressed tell their true story it will carry the edge of protest. Like so much else in the warped Anglo-twisted version of American Literature there is an attempt to convince us that any criticism of the historic pathology of US society is wrong-headed... So the main thrust of the term 'protest poetry' is to stigmatize the literature that questions the given, status quo. But wouldn't that include The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the old and new testaments of the Bible. Isn't Revelation protest poetry?"

It is about the lives of the ordinary folk (People and Police) and how their lives get twisted due to forces which constantly produce an environment of violence. Such poetry may seem to have an element of protest, but in fact, what it talks about is the life as it really is within a particular social context. Currently now the social narrative be it accurate or not, be it believed or not, is driving the violence. Robert Humphry’s in his book Values for the New Millennium described a formula for bridging the gap of distrust and hatred. The formula is:

THE LIFE VALUE (a given) + ENVIRONMENTAL DIFFERENCES (a variable) = HUMAN DIFFERENCES (Genetic and Cultural).

This leads to the critical question of how do we start an actual dialog that stops the current madness and stops the violence? Wherever we start it will take strength of character and honesty by all. It will take looking at the facts. It will take understanding personal biases by all that are influenced by what we think to be true verses what is actually true. We will have to seek to understand that what we see on the news about a police use of force is much easier to nail down and analyze after the fact with 20/20 hindsight than it is in the difficult seconds an officer has to decide in the heat of the moment of a dynamic encounter.

As cops we have to understand that we have the power to use force and that when we do it will be scrutinized as it should be. The strategies and tactics we use will be scrutinized, as they should be. Our education and training, our state of mind, our internal thought and our motive and intent will be scrutinized as it should be. Hopefully fairly and justly as a community we scrutinize and critique police actions. A community requires that everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.

We have not seen the truth. We have seen a lot of news reports, movies, detective stories, and Westerns, but we have not seen the truth that is in the hearts and minds of real people. We should organize this kind of dialogue so that the truth can be shown to the whole population. Perhaps then we can end the violence.

Some people will not be willing to do what is necessary. Will not be willing to listen and work together because they have an agenda they are not willing to give up on. To these folks I say you are a small very small percentage of this great country and you will not persevere.

To us cops we must stay the course in protecting individuals and their rights and while doing so hold the moral high ground. After all it's what we do day in and day out.

For the people out there who support the police and I believe that most people still do and by far. Let the police you come in contact with know that you do. It means a lot to the police officers out there to know you have their backs.

To the politicians and leaders out there do not exploit your trusted position for the sake of votes. Do what you were entrusted to do and your conscious tells you is right based on facts. To do otherwise is a violation of that trust.

Working together has been this country’s most progressive tradition. We must work together if we are to stop the violence towards the police who again use force rarely.

I have heard it said that anger has the power to burn and destroy. Taking care of the anger on both sides is the only lasting way to keeping the peace. Respect us as equals, mutually is what it really comes down to. The vast majority of us get this. We just need to do it!

Stay Oriented!