Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Quote of the Day: "That Could Have Been Any One of Us" | Mother Jones

Quote of the Day: "That Could Have Been Any One of Us" | Mother Jones:
From Michelle Conlin of Reuters, who interviewed 25 active-duty and retired black NYPD police officers, nearly all of whom said they themselves had been treated harshly by fellow cops when they were out of uniform:
At an ale house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last week, a group of black police officers from across the city gathered for the beer and chicken wing special. They discussed how the officers involved in the Garner incident could have tried harder to talk down an upset Garner, or sprayed mace in his face, or forced him to the ground without using a chokehold. They all agreed his death was avoidable.
Said one officer from the 106th Precinct in Queens,“That could have been any one of us.”
It shouldn't be too hard to hold two thoughts in our minds at once. Thought #1: Police officers have an inherently tough and violent job. Split-second decisions about the use of force come with the territory. Ditto for decisions about who to stop and who to keep an eye on. This makes individual mistakes inevitable, but as a group, police officers deserve our support and respect regardless.
Thought #2: That support shouldn't be blind. Conlin reports that in her group of 25 black police officers, 24 said they had received rough treatment from other cops. "The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them."
Respect for the police is one of the foundation stones of a decent and orderly society. But police work as a profession is inherently coercive, and police officers have tremendous amounts of sometimes unaccountable power over the rest of us. Thus, it's equally a foundation stone of a decent and free society to maintain vigilant oversight of professions like this, and to deal vigorously with the kinds of systemic problems that the routine exercise of power and authority make unavoidable. Belief in the latter does not exclude belief in the former.
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