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Police 1: There are good people…

June 2, 2020 pm30 7:46 pm

I hear it said. I have known some. There are good people who are cops. My neighbor. Good guy. You might know some, too.

But there is Chauvin. You’ve seen the video, or at least part of it. Cold indifference as he snuffed out a life. George Floyd’s life. Eighteen prior investigations. OK, so one bad apple.

How many departments have “one bad apple”?  Or better, do any departments not have one?  Armed, uniformed. How much damage could one bad apple do? We should not ask that question.

Do departments weed these guys out? throw them out? Not Chauvin. This is the public’s safety at stake. Does every PD wait until there is incontrovertible evidence that the apple is bad? Do some PDs wait until even after that? There were eighteen prior investigations of Chauvin. The club where he worked privately got complaints that he was excessively rough with people.

In fact, police departments, with uniforms, ranks and weapons attract, especially in a culture where Dirty Harry is glorified,  some people with violent, even sadistic tendencies. They are not screened out well enough at recruitment, and they are not weeded out. Problems seem to be systematically ignored.  While officially all police departments practice deescalation, clearly there are officers (in every department??) who do not. They are not weeded out for “failure to deescalate.” Videos of aggressive altercations inspire more nut jobs.  They are not isolated aberrations. They are attracted, and their tendencies develop are fertilized while in blue.

With the history of the treatment of Blacks in this country, and with the everyday use of force and harassment by police against Black people, and with the practice of policing minority neighborhoods more aggressively, there is an attraction for racists to join police departments. Which police department screens and rejects recruits for deep-seated racism and prejudice? Which weeds them out when racist tendencies are revealed? On the contrary, racists, surrounded by other racists, engaged in race-inspired violence and harassment, actually recruit more police to informal racism.

Police Departments, with their toleration of violent behavior, and their toleration of racism, become recruiting grounds for far right and racist organizations. Which police department actively rid themselves of members of the Klan, Nazi groups, and other ultra-right organizations?

Let’s say that most departments don’t actively encourage this culture. Probably a few still do. But even those that don’t encourage, they tolerate it.

So, yeah, I know. My neighbor’s a cop, and he’s a good person. And, I know, “it’s a few bad apples”…

But we are talking about an organization that doesn’t really try to keep out its bad apples, hangs onto its bad apples, and lets the bad apples spoil other apples.

So yes, there are good people in the PDs. That’s not the problem. The Police Departments are.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick permalink
    June 3, 2020 pm30 6:15 pm 6:15 pm

    Police departments are only the tip of the iceberg. Every facet of society , social, business and schools, are marred by systemic racism. We as teachers see it first hand. I’ve never taught a White kid ever, in over 30 years teaching. We pass them no matter what and all types of anti-social behavior is tolerated. Instead of the union joining the band wagon for Floyd they should be fighting grade and graduation fraud. They and we are hypocrites and racists.

    • June 4, 2020 pm30 12:21 pm 12:21 pm

      The segregation in our schools (partly coming from housing segregation – but the DoE has segregating policies, too) is horrible.

      But police departments attract violent and racist people. That’s different.

      And these people – far too often – kill black people. That’s different.

      So yes, there are many aspects of racism i many of our institutions that we must combat.

      But the police are not just another institution. I could not have written this post about schools.


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