Let’s Support Hudson Valley Cops, But They Need to Meet Us There
Police shouldn't be defined by their worst officers, but they do need to acknowledge the problem if they want our support.
The past few weeks have been horrific to watch. The news has been filled with so many stories about police killing people of color that it's been hard to even keep track. While the public voices its outrage over these stories, as they have for years, it's an important moment for our local police who desperately need to learn from the mistakes of other organizations, like the Catholic church.
After speaking on the air this week about another case of obvious racism by a police officer I braced myself for the inevitable phone calls. And, of course, they came flooding in. "Boris, you need to support our cops!" "Shut up, you don't know what it's like to be an officer!" But probably the most chilling call was someone who claimed they were a local police officer, threatening me by saying I needed to "support the blue" because one day I'll need his support. As if calling out individual acts of racism means I don't support the police. And that by talking about these "bad apples" I would somehow no longer be protected by the police force if I was in danger. Scary stuff, right?
It's silly to think that an entire group of people would feel threatened by someone singling out the horrific actions of a few of their peers. If there were multiple stories of radio DJs murdering their listeners the last thing I would do is get defensive. I'd be just as angry as everyone else and make it my mission to root out the cause. I'd join marches against those murderous DJs and band together with coworkers to make sure it never happened again. The last thing I'd do is fly some flag of radio brotherhood and cry that people are blowing things out of proportion. But for some reason, many people don't seem to share the same instinct when it comes to systemic problems like this.
Take the Catholic church for example. When decades of child abuse finally came to light the church handled it poorly. Instead of joining with those who were abused and strengthening trust within their congregation, the church spent their time covering up or downplaying the role of priests involved in these crimes. They circled the wagons and doubled down on the denials, making it hard for anyone who truly wanted to support the incredible work of the majority of priests who were honest and caring spiritual mentors. Maybe some of these priests just didn't want to think there was a problem or perhaps they knew but didn't want to admit it. Sadly, the denials cost so much trust that the church has now been forced to close schools and places of worship due to the religion's lowest membership in history.
The police need to understand that those who are criticizing these horrific acts of violence against minorities don't hate them. They hate racism and mistreatment and abuse of authority. They want to believe in the police and support the majority of officers who vow to uphold their oath to protect and serve. They don't want to blame the police for the problem, but it's hard to do if cops aren't speaking up. Surely, most police officers must feel the same way. Perhaps by stepping across that blue line and standing with the rest of us, those incredible officers who we celebrate for putting their lives on the line will strengthen their support instead of making a horrific situation even more painful -- because threatening a radio DJ for speaking up certainly isn't the solution.
Yes, let's back the blue, but the blue needs to have our backs too.