Being in law enforcement is not an easy proposition today.
Every city requires it, commonly in the form of a police department, to keep the peace and enforce the laws. Policing responsibility has become more complexed and increasingly difficult. A job that was once held in high regard, is currently highly scrutinized, second guessed and often resented.
As a person of color, specifically African-American, I have become perplexed as to how to relate to the police. Being neither anti- or pro-police, I respect and appreciate their value as well as question many of their tactics. It bothers me that uncertainty, fear and special behavioral instructions for children have been introduced into our interactions with police. It also concerns me that officers are made to feel the need to walk on eggshells while engaging the public.
What are we, the public to do? What are you, the officer to do?
When my anxiety and blood pressure suddenly spike when you see those flashing red lights behind you? When one does not know if you’re going to experience an officer of reason or an empowered jerk with a gun and badge. When you approach a car and the occupants are moving around suspiciously, looking questionable and you are not certain if anyone is armed? When you are in fear of your life in every circumstance is on both sides of the coin? When we or our neighborhood(s) do not feel included in the writing on the side of squad cars that say “to protect and serve?” When black glove wearing occupants of unmarked squads appear gang related, act “thuggish,” and are known to physically strike or pull a gun on a noncombative individual(s)? When individual(s) – groups disrespect you, your authority and attempt to prevent you from performing your job? When you are obligated to provide services/protection to a person(s) who publicly state they hate all police? When the department is obliged to perform at a higher service delivery to intitled downtown entertainment districts and upscale neighborhoods? When you respectfully report to an officer that you possess both a weapon and permit to carry, and the assumption of immediate danger shapes the experience or the outcome? When my skin color is criteria for suspicion or diminishes my humanity? When an officer(s) who recently exhibited overly aggressive or abrasive version of law enforcement is now passing out school supplies, bikes or hot dogs to neighborhood kids? When officer “GI-Joe” is not able to distinguish between fighting crime and “combat?” When one’s loudmouth and/or ill-informed behavior dictates a more severe level of force? When you respond to a domestic situation and the obvious victim resents your having to confront, restrain or arrest an alleged perpetrator?
It is not us against them. We are one. Although equally flawed, we need each other if we are to ever achieve successful and sustained police-community relations.