Lately it seems that, as a country, when it comes time to paint we prefer the broad brush. It makes sense, it’s so much easier than paying attention to the subtle - and not so subtle - differences and nuances that make up the truth. It requires less thought and effort and lends itself to a good slogan that looks sharp on a t-shirt.
And once you have that - and as long as you don’t think about it too much or dig too deep - then you have something the angry mob can really get behind.
Thanks to the mob we now know that all cops are murderous thugs - and that we must immediately “defund” police departments. We don’t know exactly what that means of course, but we need to do it. The sooner the better.
At the risk of angering the “cancel culture” I’m going to say something controversial… I don’t think all cops are bad, racist or murderers. Sorry, but I don’t.
Like any occupation there are bad apples, sometimes REALLY bad apples. The Minneapolis cops that killed George Flyod are good examples of that. Their actions on that day were despicable and cried out for arrest and prosecution.
But that is hardly an example of the attitudes of thousands of officers who go to work every day with the intention of living up the motto of many police departments - to serve and protect. And it is definitely unfair to local law enforcement officers who have been swept up in the broad brush strokes of generalization.
In the 20 plus years that I’ve lived in Atlantic I’ve never heard of an incident of an officer, city or county using excessive force to arrest a suspect, much less actually killing someone. Most have probably never even drawn their weapons in the line of duty.
I have however witnessed many acts of kindness from officers - almost all of which go unreported. I know of officers helping domestic abuse victims - sometimes even warning them if their abusers pose additional danger; I’ve witnessed many families who have received Christmas gifts who might not have otherwise thanks to the Shop with a Cop program and I have seen hundreds of kids taken camping, to the zoo and other places through the police department’s summer programs.
I’ve seen officers on and off duty volunteering their time at community events, and running youth sports leagues, coaching and many others.
And while my interactions with law enforcement are almost alway during a stressful event, a fire, accident or such, I have never witnessed any officer that wasn’t respectful with the public or had “an attitude.”
Granted, these are just my experiences with local law enforcement and I have, during my life, dealt with cops that were less … respectful, lets say. And I imagine that even locally there are stories where an individual has had a different experience than me.
But none of us have been treated the way George Floyd was treated and that’s important to remember. I would wager to say that our local officers were as horrified as we were by Mr. Floyd’s death. The truth is just the opposite. Local law enforcement officers have been valued assets to our communities while doing an extremely difficult job.
It’s entirely appropriate that as a country we look at police reforms, and acknowledge that in some areas changes need to be made with tactics, procedures and attitudes. We need to take an honest look at what is broken and fix it. But that doesn’t mean the whole system is broken.
It's unfortunate that we live in a time where subtlety and nuisance are ignored and that the actions of a few are ascribed to all. But that’s the problem with the broad brush - it tends to smear.