It seems these days that the whole world is against cops.
But the truth is that cops are almost all good people. In most surveys of trusted and respected professions that I have seen, policemen rank near the top — way above politicians and clergy.
Our son is a cop. You won’t find one person who has ever known him who could honestly say that he is a racist. He holds a highly marketable finance degree from Clemson University but chooses to be a cop because he loves it. He loves helping people more than money.
He has saved lives and comforted frightened people. There are people out there who will never forget what he did for them in their hour of need.
But ... he has been shot at. He has gotten between angry men and the women they were trying to kill. His job has taken him into squalid homes and brought their bed bugs home on his uniform to torment his own babies. (And, I should add that it cost him thousands of dollars to get rid of them — on a cop’s salary.) He refuses to let me sit in his squad car to get a closer look because suspects have pooped in his car (intentionally) more times than he can count. Sometimes there is no time for precautions, so his co-workers have caught COVID-19 and hepatitis C from suspects and victims. And, too often, all of them have watched incredulously as judges released criminals after they have risked so much to try to take them off of the streets.
This is his job.
For all of this, it is now very popular for people to disparage him for simply doing his job.
His family has had to see law enforcement officers repeatedly maligned in the media, suffer through friends saying cops are “power-drunk” and worse online, even listen to sermons in church condemning the police with a broad brush, and watch anarchists chanting on television, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" Doesn't his life matter, too?
He and his colleagues are not perfect, but they are trying really hard not to mistreat people. Our son was raised to “judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin” — nor, I should add, by the color of their uniforms. I wish people applied the same standards to him.
I have to wonder: Has it occurred to any of those politicians, media, and well-meaning, woke people, who are loudly hawking this POLICE-ARE-GUNNING-DOWN-BLACK-MEN genocide narrative, that this hype might have put Rayshard Brooks’ blood on their own hands?
This incessant screaming about police being out to get Black men and the constant reruns of the sickening George Floyd strangulation are bound to have led Mr. Brooks and thousands of others to be irrationally spring-loaded for fight or flight.
Yes, the George Floyd case looked horrible. Yes, it was evil. And yes, it should never happen again. But, at this point, is playing it over and over again while misrepresenting the incidence of such aberrations really helping?
Fair-minded people should take a deep breath and look at the facts from the Washington Post database on police shootings. It listed only 10 unarmed Black people who were killed by police in the U.S. in 2019.
In five of these cases, the officer was attacked first. One was an accident. Criminal charges have been brought against two officers.
Mr. Brooks, on the other hand, was attacking officers who know that, on average, 50 innocent cops were killed in recent years by criminal suspects. Believe me, if there is anybody out there who wants to de-escalate interactions, it is cops. Their lives often depend on it.
In the unedited video, you will see an arrest that started politely and was going very smoothly for a good while until Mr. Brooks snapped, bolted, and attacked the cops. I’m guessing those “police-are-out-gunning-down-Black-men” tapes were running around in his head. I imagine the officers had a few tapes of their own (specifically of funerals and their families) running around in their heads — making them jumpy as well.
How many other people will be hurt?
The Brooks death was a tragedy. The blame cannot be put in any one place, even though I believe the unjustly and dishonestly hyped open-season-on-Blacks script had to have been a huge part of it. We should do our best to try to avoid having it happen again. One way we can do that is by keeping our discussions of police brutality and racism honest.
Every single one of those who have been trumpeting these exaggerated and dishonest myths about the evil, racist police needs to take a step back and examine his or her own part in making this world worse today instead of better.
Cathy Cornwell Floyd is a nursing professor and a freelance writer who lives in Concord.
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