My heart is broken and horrified. Broken for the broken world we live in.
I hear a lot of people talking about victims of police shootings and police violence by focusing on the past of victims, where they were, where they were from, etc. So let me talk about my family for a moment. Let’s be blunt. All of us are a white, upper-middle-class family. We don’t have a history of arrests or criminal behavior. We live in the right part of town, have the right kind of names, the right kind of hair, the right kind of cars, and talk the right way. Our cars are insured and registered, our driver licenses are up to date. And we have been subject to illegal search, police violence, police perjury, attempted destruction of property, and unprofessional behavior. These incidents have occurred over at least 3 police departments.
In my immediate family we have had the following incidents occur:
1) Illegal search of a car. My family member did not give consent for his car to be searched, the police officers bashed his friend’s head into the car and said they would do worse if he did not let them search the car. They searched the car and found nothing. The video evidence was then destroyed in 2 separate police cars. Both officers were disciplined for destruction of evidence because my family member bothered to follow up after the incident.
2) Two officers perjured themselves in a court of law about one of my other family member’s traffic citation. Charges against my family member were dropped after the judge saw the video. Nothing happened to either officer and both continue to be police officers.
3) A police officer approached a car stopped in traffic, driven by my family member, and proceeded to hit the car and try to draw the occupant into a fight.
4) A female relative in her 60’s had several police officers approach her on the street she on with their GUNS DRAWN and proceeded to question her for over half an hour until she asked if she was under arrest and was finally let go. To this day she has no idea why this incident occurred.
5) The Same female relative was publicly berated on her front lawn for over half an hour by a police officer when she called to report a suspicious vehicle after there had a been a string of robberies in the area and the police had requested local citizens to call about particular vehicles.
After this history of my family being subjected to an illegal search, police violence, police perjury, attempted destruction of property, and unprofessional behavior, I am a bit wary of the police. And it horrifies me to imagine what our fellow black citizens are feeling.
So don’t tell me there isn’t a problem with how policing is handled in our country.
Don’t tell me the black community shouldn’t be upset. We all should be. Is this how every officer acts? No, of course not, but all the more reason to hold police officers accountable for criminal and unprofessional behavior for the protection of the fabulous police officers I do know.
I also hear a lot of people talk about respect, if you were just respectful, stuff like this wouldn’t happen. My family members were all respectful, and these incidents still happened. And a professional should be able to handle being disrespected without shooting someone. I have been a nurse for over 10 years and was a hospice nurse out in the community for over 5 years. I have been locked in drug houses, been threatened, cursed at, yelled at, dealt with suicidal people, threatened to be sued, dealt with people stealing medications, and had a security guard hide behind me. I did this job through 2 pregnancies and unarmed. And guess what? I didn’t yell at people, I didn’t cuss people out, and always treated people with respect. Why? Because I am a professional. Yes, I set boundaries, yes I made decisions people didn’t always like, but I acted in a law-abiding and respectful manner because I am a professional, not because people treat me with respect.
If you can’t handle people not talking to you the way you want, then you need to get out of police work. The police are the professionals, not the citizens they are interacting with.
Maybe people could be more respectful, it doesn’t mean they should be shot dead for it. Last I checked it is not against the law to be an a$$hole. That’s right, you should be able to be an a$$hole and not be shot dead by a police officer for it.
I wish I had all the perfect answers to fix these horrible bloody scenes in our nation. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few ideas.
1) Admit there is a problem. Doesn’t mean all police officers are bad, I don’t think most are, but we as a nation need to admit there is a huge problem.
2) Much as I hate how much of our lives are now recorded, we need to put body cameras on every police officer to protect good officers from false complaints and have behavior records of those who should no longer be police officers. Is it perfect? No, but it’s one of the best tools we have at our disposal right now. Check out these two articles from across the political spectrum: A Wall Street Journal article and a Slate.com article.
3) End the war on drugs. Is it a good idea to take drugs? Nope. Is it wise? Nope. Have I ever taken drugs? Nope. Would I encourage anyone I love to take drugs? Nope. But the war on drugs has destroyed more lives, property and civil rights then I care to think about. End it now.
4) We need to value life. Yes, police officers live’s should be valued. But so should the guy from the wrong side of town, the guy who drives the wrong car, the guy who’s skin is the wrong color, the guy on drugs. We are all created in the image of God and worthy of honor and respect because of our image bearer status. Let’s act like it.