I am not a police officer. I have never wanted to be one. I recognize the job as unforgiving and tough and taxing on the human psyche. I can see why officers and ex officers are subject to higher than normal rates of divorce, suicide, and substance abuse. I can see how an “us vs. them” mentality might develop, and how that might end badly – and has – time and time again.
It is plain that there are systemic problems within a system where employees are asked to be so many things – counselor, litigator, babysitter, enforcer – and that things need to change in order to get better. Right now, we seem committed to repeating Einstein’s description of insanity. And people are dying.
I am reminded of the old saying that starts “Heaven Is Where The Police Are British…” and am left to wonder if we could launch a police recruitment effort in the UK, agreeing that their officers are well mannered, well spoken, and for the most part unarmed. Understanding that we’re quite a bit bigger and more populous than our English cousins our police still dispatch our citizens by the hundreds each year while British bobbies can count the number of times they’ve had to resort to lethal force on one hand.
I have come to believe this is the result of training and practices and that adjustments need to be made if our law enforcement departments are to curtail the number of fatal shootings and other excesses we have seen develop over time. Let me be clear: I am not for defunding the police, but I am for better training and oversight, for their sake as well as for ours.
James T. Gibbons/Concord