I’m glad he’s come to this conclusion, but there is a reverence in the tone that is exactly why it’s taken him so much longer than lots of other people and organizations who have been advising the same. Decades longer, even.
Of course, law enforcement isn’t the enemy. That goes without saying. The enemy is every law enforcement officer and/or politician who commits or defends the kind of bad police work that negatively affects the lives of innocent people. The enemy is the culture that encourages even good police to turn a blind eye to that kind of police work. Both are easy to spot and always have been.
“Today?” This is very surprising coming from someone who has a prominent place in a school of journalism. That police officers and organizations have been acting in atrocious ways while regularly victimizing the citizenry has been well documented since there have been police officers and organizations.
Which is precisely why you don’t keep a close eye on the police (or any other powerful organization) “reluctantly.” You do it as an obvious response to a serious long-term problem. You do it as a reasonable safe-guard against potential danger.
Good citizens don’t “trust” the part of the government that can taze or shoot you with relative immunity. No good police officer wants to be “trusted” simply because he or she is a police officer, but rather because he or she has a record of positive behavior on the force, and, quite reasonably, because any officer who behaves negatively is removed from the force.
“Trust” is the mortal enemy of good governance (not to mention journalism).
I read this quite differently than you, but perhaps you know more about the author that I do. When I see the phrase:
“I say that reluctantly, because law enforcement is not, per se, our enemy…”
It reads to me like someone who really, really doesn’t trust the police but whose target audience is people who do trust the police.
The same with the phrase “law enforcement today”. It’s true that law enforcement does this too much today. It’s also true that “today” may be the highest point in human history for integrity and oversight of law enforcement (if not, it is probably a point in the last couple of decades). It’s a phrase that appeals to fictional “good old days” to people who believe in them while technically being true for people who notice the wink.
But, as I say, I’m not familiar with the authority. Was I just being fancifully charitable? Does he appear to appeal well to authoritarian followers because he is one?
law enforcement today too often violates the civil liberties of those they are sworn to protect, and the increasing militarization of American law enforcement (an offshoot of the Wars on (Some) Drugs and Terror) is poisoning the trust of many citizens.
Loved that part, but it’s missing another “(Some).”
A police person executes an unarmed black man for possibly taking less than $10 of tobacco products in a strong arm robbery. The locals get upset and the reaction is close ranks and begin the fight against everyone who isn’t police. Maybe they aren’t our enemy but it sure looks like we are theirs.
Every single cop involved in the Ferguson story is an enemy of the people -the people they swore to protect.
I don’t disagree with this, at all. If the ranks of law-enforcement were flushed of every cop who had violated civil rights or turned a blind eye to it, there would be a lot fewer cops on the street.
I think it’s reasonable to think the author might have simply phrased things less specifically than he could have (or than I would have personally liked).
And I think you’re right that…
It’s ironic because when you go to this site, you see that there are lots of awful cops, but you also see that many of them are being arrested and/or fired and/or jailed. Good news and bad news, I suppose.
I was just hoping for a bit more realism from the author, but, like you said, maybe he was shooting for a different audience. And there’s nothing wrong with being “fancifully charitable.” More people should be charitable in their judgments of strangers. Doing it “fancifully” just makes it more fun. Delightful, even!
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