Just so no one misunderstands, let me be crystal clear: What happened to George Floyd was totally heinous, atrocious and wrong. I have not met one single individual, even the law enforce-ment officers I know, who would disagree.
That being said, I think we need to have a serious discussion about how policing is done in our country. Simply put, much like our teachers and our educational system, we ask our law enforcement officers to do too much. We ask them to do things that they have little or no training to handle. Let me give you a quick example.
Talk to any police officer and they will tell you that the situation they hate to deal with the most is a “domestic.” A husband and wife, a boyfriend and a girlfriend, are having an argument. As we liked to say in Franklin County, alcohol is involved. Things escalate. Weapons come out. (Who needs a gun when there is a whole set of steak knives available?) Logic, reason and common sense evaporate. The police arrest someone. And what happens? With a flip of a switch, the significant other now wants to defend and protect the very person whom just moments before they were threatening to harm. “Don’t arrest him officer, he needs to go to work tomorrow!” The police were never meant to be relationship/marriage counselors.
They were also never meant to be psychiatrists. We have not adequately funded mental health ser-vices, yet we expect our police to respond if someone has neglected or refused to take their medication and begins acting irrationally or in a threatening manner. Do we expect our police to know and under-stand the entire DSM IV? (If you had to google that, you just proved my point. And yes, I know, there is a 5.)
Are there racist police officers? Sure. Are there incompetent police officers? Sure. But, let’s be hon-est, there is racism and incompetence in every line of work, even clergy. Is the system corrupt? Once again, read the second Ferguson report, it is pretty clear about patterns of racial inequality. Is there a need for change? Undoubtedly.
We need a serious discussion about policing. I know a lot of police officers, and they are truly dedicated to protect and serve the community, you know, us. And by “us” I mean ALL of us. A couple of them have put their lives on the line for me personally. (3 am in the morning, in a cemetery, a suicidal person with a shotgun – a classic Rev. Kev story) I want the system to work for all citizens. I want the system to be just and fair. And I still want the system.
With work, honesty, prayer and God’s help, we can make it better.