The American Police Officer – Racist or Color Blind?
In the wake of sensational media reports and the Department of Justice review of the Chicago Police Department, the politically incorrect question must be asked: are cops in America truly racist or has the media created an unfair bias of public perception?
I have spent decades studying conflict and how best to resolve conflict in various industries. Throughout my studies, both formal and independent, there were two constants I have come to believe are present and vital to understanding every disagreement.
- Substantive Issue – The Problem
- Relationship Issue – How we interact and value we place on each other
I believe in conflict resolution, relationships are far more important than the substantive issue because most of the time conflicts get stuck in the entanglement of the relationship, and the other’s person’s perception, rather than in the root cause or substantive issue.
It must be understood that a person’s perception is their reality. Entangling relationship issues into the substantive issue automatically puts people into conflict. It is equally important to realize, understanding the other side’s position doesn’t require agreeing with it. But there is no excuse for not considering others as intelligent and reasonable individuals and thus attacking the problem on its merits.
The Problem With the Media
Perhaps the greatest issue I see played out in the media repeatedly is people who choose to demean others simply because they disagree with their position. Attacking the person and not the substantive issue only creates greater division and hinders resolution. Additionally, focusing on peoples’ positions instead of their interests is equally detrimental. When each party concentrates on the opposing party’s interests rather than their position, the probability of structuring alternative solutions increases.
Let’s look at the American police officer’s interest opposed to position. The law enforcement profession is made up of individuals of virtually every race, socio-economic level, sexual orientation, and religion. Their fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice. When an individual officer fails in the performance of their fundamental duty of serving the community, they should be held accountable for their failure.
Racially Biased Officers
Does the law enforcement community have individual officers who are racially biased? Yes, it does. Does it have officers who are prone to abuse their authority? Yes, it does. Does it have homophobic or misogynistic officers or officers who don’t follow ethical standards? Absolutely! But I just as firmly believe the majority of officers take their oaths seriously and perform their duties to the best of their abilities, respectfully and professionally. Unfortunately, the media and specific ideological groups have portrayed all officers negatively based upon the actions of those who fail to live up to the high standards of this profession.
In other words, they have focused on the position of all officers rather than the interest of the law enforcement profession. This constant negative portrayal has put communities and their law enforcement agencies in constant conflict. Police agencies across this nation have brought some of this upon themselves, by failing to responsibly hold wayward officers accountable for their derelictions of duty and rid the profession of its malcontents. The solutions to these issues must involve appropriate self-policing coupled with greater transparency on the part of law enforcement and government.