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We Need to Support Both Reform & Our Police

10:44 PM · Jun 8, 2020

(Opinion) The United States is a country of extremes, and in my opinion the current push to eliminate police departments across the US is misguided. Yesterday the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle its police force and create a new public safety system. There are some bad police officers that stubbornly remain in a system in need of reform, but I don't believe the solution is to eliminate police departments. We have excellent law enforcement officers in our community. I have worked closely with many of them in the past few years and even have gone through the citizen police academy here. Our officers are some incredible people. I am also very aware that our community’s experience with law enforcement is not shared in every community around the country. This is significant. If people live in a community where they do not have positive experiences with police officers, have a high level of trust in them, and are able to get to know them personally, it’s much easier to cast blanket statements about the police and call for their elimination entirely. There probably are police departments around the country that might have such a toxic culture they just need to be replaced and start afresh. Minneapolis might be one of those locations. When I saw the video of George Floyd being murdered, I could never in a million years imagine that event happening in the middle of my town with other officers standing around watching. It shows that in some places the rot probably runs deep. Reform and change needs to happen because the system is doing a very poor job of weeding out bad cops in some communities across the country. Some are calling for the elimination of police unions, I don’t know what would be most effective, but I believe a balanced path forward will emerge. There needs to be an effective system that facilitates justice for people and effective accountability for law enforcement officers. At the same time, many other changes need to happen within our system. Right now we are asking our police officers to uphold the law and yet the criminal justice system is a complete joke and most criminals get nothing more than a slap on the wrist for committing crimes. Over and over we ask our officers to risk their lives dealing with the same criminals they arrest day after day and they spend no time in jail and are not afraid of any of our current consequences. That’s insane. They risk their lives enforcing laws with no teeth and end up giving a ticket to someone that will not pay it and who will be committing more crimes that same day? That’s messed up. We ask a lot from police, and then federal, state and local governments fail to back them up. That’s not acceptable. If our country is about to hold police to higher standards, our country needs to be held to higher standards on how we are going to actually deal with criminals rather than just throwing them back on the street only to have communities and local police suffer the never ending burden. Also, our mental health and homeless crises failings in the US should not fall on law enforcement. We have people in our community that need to be in a mental hospital, but our state shut them all down so these people roam our city committing an endless amount of crimes. Arrest, cite and release over and over. Then there are drug addicts that cannot get into rehab even if they wanted to go. So they are left on the street and participate in the never ending cycle of theft and drug use until they do something so heinous they end up in prison or dead. Notice the theme? The problems roll down hill until the police are asked to deal with everything, and that’s not right. These are bipartisan issues and solutions needs to be figured out quickly. One of the consequences of putting police in an impossible situation is that the job is becoming less and less attractive. This has caused a nationwide shortage of applicants and naturally lowers the quality of police departments who are forced to be less picky about who they hire. You see where that leads. Let’s improve law enforcement and let’s also own our other failings that contribute to the broken system that we have been mired in for decades now. We are far too tolerant of our broken systems. Things have been bad for a long time, this was a rupture which will not allow us to ignore the problem any longer. It’s easy for people to blame the police, but who created the system and who has tolerated it being broken for so long? We need to support our brothers and sisters in the black community. They're hurting and fed up with a broken system that has existed for far too long. We also need to support our police and military who we’ve been asking to clean up our societal failings for decades now.