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Police- Heartless Racist Bullies or Protectors of the Community



As with any group of people, there are some bad apples, and they give everyone else a bad name. But most of the other groups do not carry lethal weapons. And most of those groups are not driven by a profiling dogma. That has caused a giant chasm between those who support the police and those who are afraid of the police. The data will show that there is a disproportionate number of encounters, often deadly, with people of color. It’s a complex problem rooted in decades, even centuries old paradigms of racism and prejudice. While I defend the need for and respect law enforcement, I’ve also witnessed racism first-hand. It’s real and not the figment of some woke, liberal brainchild. It’s the system, and the system needs to change if the systemic racism is to be properly addressed. On one hand no one should fear for their life if they call for help. On the other hand, if I’m being attacked and call 9-1-1, I don’t want someone to tell me to be calm and that they are sending prayers.

In 1992 the movie “A Few Good Men” came out. Jack Nicholson was Col. Nathan Jessup, and his nemesis was Tom Cruise as Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a military lawyer. The essence of the movie is that two Marines were being accused of murder, but there was suspicion the severe hazing of the victim was ordered by Col Jessup. It should not be lost that both of the lower ranking Marines are minorities while the two courtroom opponents are white. The following is an edited version of one of the powerful court scenes. The courtroom dialogue is similar to dialogues that have taken place in real life surrounding those tasked with enforcing laws, rules, and commands.

Col Jessup: You want answers?!

LTJG Kaffee: I want the truth!

Col Jessup: You can't handle the truth!

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You don't want the truth because it’s deep down in places you don't talk about at parties. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

Eventually, it’s revealed that Col. Jessup did order the “Code Red”, as it’s called. He ordered a hit on the very man he was supposed to protect. Sound familiar?

Basically, Col. Jessup is a metaphor for the conflict that exists in societies all over. The police deal mostly with bad guys, which jades their perspective. The victims, an inordinate number of minorities, scream police brutality. Even minorities want to be protected. They just don’t want to lose their lives trying to get it. The police on the beat are asked to be law enforcement, community activists, psychologists, first responders, and a host of other things. It’s an impossible task to try to fill all of those roles. Don’t misinterpret this piece to mean “poor police”, but statements like “defund the police” serve to further divide.

As a mental health professional, I truly believe that many situations could be better handled by those trained to deal with people having mental health issues. Before a problem can be solved, there has to be acknowledgement that a problem exists. When heads of law enforcement agencies downplay the existence of problems, most notably racism, they do a tremendous disservice to communities by forcing people not to trust the police.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.

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