Has policing in America become even more of a thankless job over the past six years than it ever was before? Are police under such pressure and scrutiny that it makes it even more difficult for them to effectively protect our communities? And just how are the police expected to respond when arriving at a chaotic and potentially dangerous incident? Or do they respond at all, worried that they may be accused of racism?
Did the McKinney police officer exhibit overt racism when he dealt with a group of mostly black teenagers who had crashed a community pool party, or does the root of the problem lie elsewhere?
Perhaps the problem lies with the young people who are not being taught to respect the law, or to respect the property and rights of others. And certainly they are not being taught to respect the police and comply with the reasonable instructions given by police officers investigating an incident.
Unfortunately as a result of this administration’s war on the police overseen and encouraged by former Attorney General Eric Holder with the support of Barack Obama, young people, and particularly young people of color in this country have become much more belligerent and uncooperative during police-citizen encounters.
Growing up my parents taught me to respect the law and to respect the police. I was told to be courteous and to respond “yes sir, no sir”, and to follow the officer’s instructions promptly. By doing so I would lessen the chance of my having worse problems.
Even if the officer was wrong my parents told me to go ahead and comply or sign the ticket and they would resolve it at the police station afterwards. But above all it was important to avoid exacerbating the situation or causing myself more difficulty by being disrespectful and failing to cooperate with the police.
Years ago a police officer I know received a radio call for a “possible homicide” that had just occurred on a well-lit parking lot of an area amusement park. Multiple witnesses described seeing between four to five young black male suspects “stomp to death” a young white male on the lot.
The witnesses were unsure if any other weapons had been used and they added that the suspects had fled in the direction of another parking area at a nearby hotel a couple of hundred yards away.
This information was broadcast over the radio in all police squad cars as additional officers responded to the scene. Since another officer had arrived to attend to the victim my friend drove to the location where the suspects had been observed to flee.
While in-route additional information was received from a person who worked at the hotel and was monitoring a police scanner, and they advised that the possible suspects were seen to get into a described vehicle and were attempting to depart the area. As he arrived he noticed a vehicle matching the description, and that was occupied by several young black males quickly trying to depart the area. He quickly blocked off their exit with a police squad car.
Since he had no back-up he got out of his vehicle with his weapon drawn and performed a “felony traffic stop”, a police tactic that he had been taught years earlier in the police academy. Unsure whether they might be in possession of a weapon, each of the passengers was ordered out of the vehicle one at a time and then ordered to lie flat on the ground. Fortunately each complied without resisting.
Once additional officers arrived and the situation was investigated further it was determined that these individuals were not the suspects that had assaulted the victim, and they were eventually allowed to proceed on their way. There was some grumbling among them and prior to departing a few expressed that they felt they were being harassed and stopped simply because they were black.
At this point my friend advised them that indeed that is exactly what he did, stop them because they were black. Since he had been informed by multiple witnesses that the suspects were young black males it would have been pretty stupid of him to stop a car full of young white males. They begrudgingly agreed and with police apologies for their inconvenience they departed.
I share this only to enlighten people that the police are often times sent into chaotic and confusing situations where they have to assert control quickly in order to restore order and protect lives and property, and sort out exactly what has happened.
Unless citizens are listening to a police scanner rarely do they know what a police officer is being told that they are responding to when they get a radio call. Unless a citizen sits in a police roll call and is briefed on what the police are briefed on before they start their daily shift, citizens haven’t a clue what the police are being told.
Which may include descriptions of vehicles and suspects to be on the look-out for. Many times that traffic violation one is stopped for and given only a warning might not be about a traffic violation at all. It might be because they or their vehicle matches the description of a vehicle or person the police are seeking for some serious crime.
The bottom line is that the entire McKinney, Texas situation would never have happened had the youths involved been taught to respect other people’s property, to respect and abide by the law, and to respect and comply with the police. It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with behavior. It’s as simple as that.