Under What Circumstances Could This Be Good Policing?

If you pre­vi­ous­ly ignored the atroc­i­ties that American police com­mit every day against black peo­ple, I get it.
If, how­ev­er, the Derek Chauvin killing of George Floyd did not spur some­thing inside you.…..you, my dear sir/​madam, may be desen­si­tized to the violence.
I get how you could say, ‘why both­er? It’s not affect­ing me’. I total­ly get that the sheer bru­tal­i­ty of it is too much to watch if you don’t have to. I mean, how many of us haven’t scrolled past the fly-infest­ed mouths of the scrawny near-dead peo­ple in the Sudan and Darfur? We tell our­selves that view­ing those images is counter-pro­duc­tive; they live too far away, there is noth­ing we can do? But are we real­ly telling the truth, or are we sim­ply try­ing to con­vince our­selves that we can­not change it?
Many years ago, my friend “Dillo,” a man I went to the police acad­e­my with, served in the Jamaica Constabulary Force with, asked me as we chat­ted in the Bronx, “how can you crit­i­cize the police and we were such no-non­sense police officers”?
I remind­ed Dillo of that con­ver­sa­tion as we chat­ted a few weeks ago. Dillo lives in Maryland and I in New York; we laughed as we reliv­ed those moments. I respond­ed to his ques­tion with one of my own, ” Dillo, did we do any of the things these cops are doing”?
Dillo looked me dead in the eyes that beau­ti­ful sum­mer day as we sat in his father’s yard, “you are right; I hate it when you are right.”
Our con­ver­sa­tion that day was over two decades ago; at the time, there were no cell phone cam­eras, sto­ries of police abus­es were per­son­al sto­ries that were relayed word of mouth, sto­ries of per­son­al pain, indi­vid­ual sto­ries that hard­ly got men­tioned in the news­pa­pers or on tele­vi­sion. When the media did both­er to car­ry a sto­ry of police abuse, they came with heavy loads of pro-police pro­logue; they were san­i­tized by a media that felt it had to pay homage to police even in the face of their most egre­gious crimes.
Television and cable chan­nels were inun­dat­ed with cop shows; we all remem­ber the cop shows that glo­ri­fied law enforce­ment and dem­a­gogued the bad guys.
It just fol­lowed that nine­ty per­cent of the time, the cops were white, and the bad guys were black. Sure we all watched and enjoyed Magnum PI, Miami Vice, and the litany of oth­er cop shows, what we failed to real­ize, .….…yes even us blacks, at that time was the indoc­tri­na­tion val­ue of those tele­vi­sion shows that solid­i­fied in our minds what Hollywood want­ed us to mem­o­rize, white equals good, black equals bad.


Some argue that American Policing is [not bro­ken]; they say it is work­ing exact­ly as it was intend­ed to. I con­cur with that point of view. However, the brand of polic­ing that is occur­ring across the United States is so hor­rif­ic that there is no hope of resus­ci­tat­ing it. It is fun­da­men­tal­ly anti­thet­i­cal to the auton­o­my and dig­ni­ty of African-Americans.
The idea that offi­cers may exer­cise dis­cre­tion when deal­ing with the elder­ly, or infirm, peo­ple with men­tal issues, under­age kids, peo­ple under the influ­ence of alco­hol or drugs does not apply any­more. Far too often, we see police show up to deal with sim­ple sit­u­a­tions and make the mat­ter expo­nen­tial­ly worse because of their frag­ile egos.
Far too many cops are robot­ic oppres­sors who ele­vate shit­ty traf­fic stops they orches­trate, they then goad and intim­i­date and final­ly end up abus­ing the motorist, usu­al­ly peo­ple of col­or, to gain felony arrests or worse, the dri­ver ends up dead at the hands of police for hav­ing com­mit­ted no crime, no offense.
Tasers are used to exact pun­ish­ment for con­tempt of cop, guns for lit­tle girls with knives, for a black man who dares to offend bul­lets to the back is the accept­ed punishment.
The American cop is now judge, jury, and exe­cu­tion­er, the judi­cial sys­tem mere­ly rub­ber-stamp the atrocities.
The police are not the only part of the equa­tion that’s rot­ten; it runs the gamut from the low-lev­el cops on the beat all the way to the leg­is­la­ture, the Governor’s man­sions, and all the way to the top at the fed­er­al lev­el. See; https://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​L​a​r​r​y​_​K​r​a​s​ner.
The cor­po­rate media does lit­tle or no report­ing on police mis­con­duct across the United States, save and except for the snip­pets flashed across their tele­vi­sion screens for a few sec­onds, before mov­ing on to oth­er fluff pieces. Nowadays, they are forced to report on the inci­dents of police vio­lence not out of jour­nal­is­tic pru­dence but out of necessity.
The pub­lic’s atten­tion is focused on social media nowa­days; there, events are uploaded in real-time, gar­ner­ing mil­lions of eyeballs.
But for inde­pen­dent report­ing from cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists, in the lynch­ing of George Floyd and the brav­ery and pres­ence of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, the world would nev­er get to see what the police are doing. PBS has done good report­ing of late notice­ably in its project (Philly DA), speak­ing of District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Other pub­lic report­ing orga­ni­za­tions and blogs have now begun to focus on the prob­lem. Still, noth­ing has been more effec­tive than the cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists who have stood their ground and record­ed with their mobile phones.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, black achiev­er hon­oree, and cre­ator of the blog mike​beck​les​.com. 

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