Many years ago, I was asked to sit on a sheriff’s committee on what was then called racial profiling by the police. The suggestion at the time in these early discussions was some police were stopping people due to skin color alone. So the idea was to require agencies to track contacts by race.
Keep in mind this must have been more than 20 years ago.
I’m not sure why, but I found myself sitting next to a chief deputy who I think was from King County. She was a nice lady, and she happened to be Black.
Over the hours we sat there and talked, I enjoyed her point of view and experiences up until she told me I was racist and I just didn’t know it.
It confused me because I thought I’d know.
In the next few minutes, as I asked her how she could know that and I didn’t, she had a long and clearly biased (in my view) explanation that I didn’t understand then and still don’t buy today.
I’m not naïve enough to say there isn’t racism or bad cops because there is — and they should be dealt with appropriately and fairly. But sometimes cops are called and have no control over who it is they were called about.
Now there is a movement to defund police, and some cities already have.
Their elected officials have used their officers as political scapegoats by placing all racial tension at their feet, no matter what the actions of the suspect were.
But there is a truth that is simply being ignored by those interest groups and big media; in no case I’m aware of did a suspect get shot for complying with the instructions of the officer.
And this behavior isn’t a racial thing at all; it applies to anyone contacted by the police. Simply comply, and if you are being mistreated, take it to court. Lord knows we have hungry lawyers willing to sue.
The notion of making the officers personally liable has been around a while and looks like it will get some traction. OK. Those same elected knotheads making political points at the expense of law enforcement officers, who are expected to make split second decisions, also have immunity.
And they take weeks or months to make bad decisions; they should also lose qualified immunity.
How about prosecutors failing to charge a crime like looting or arson? Or judges who turn people loose to harm more victims? Let's talk about their immunity as well.
If they expect officers in the heat of a critical incident to be held personally liable, then everyone else in these political, judicial or other government jobs should be too.
And one other thing in closing; there are volumes of laws on the books from minor traffic, gun laws, laws against looting, arson and lately lots of debate about enforcing them. (It’s pretty clear over the past year they weren’t.)
Cops didn’t write a single one of those laws.
So lets be honest, cities and legislators wrote traffic laws to make money, and as a side effect provide for some traffic safety. They wrote loitering laws, panhandling laws, all kinds of laws, and they still are, and that creates contact with the police they apparently don’t want.
So stop it! Cancel any law you don’t want enforced. That is your job.
I don’t know where this is all going, but I’m pretty sure of one thing. If bashing all cops continues by the political body they serve, there will not be a need to defund the police.
There won’t be enough qualified applicants who want to be one.
John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.