By CLEO BAKER
I would like to respond to the allegations of “systematic racism” and the need for police reform.
I have been a police officer for over 25 years. I have worked for two agencies during that time. I can remember only two officers who(m) I would call racist. Both were “minority” officers. Both expressed racism towards whites.
I have participated in promotion boards with my own agencies as well as those for several other agencies. The promotion boards with other agencies often had participants from multiple agencies on them. I have never seen any candidate denied being selected for promotion because (o)f his/her race, religion or culture. Those items never came up. None cared what race, sex or sexual orientation the candidate was. We only cared whether this person was qualified for the position.
Police officers know their communities and know who their repeat offenders are. Those are the people whose names and descriptions repeatedly arise when we speak to crime victims. They are the people who continually and repeatedly victimize their fellow citizens. They are the people who are constantly being caught with drugs, stolen property, warrants and illegal firearms.
Often these people come from minority communities. Is it racism that leads police officers to continually pursue these individuals? No, it is good police work. These people aren’t pursued because of their race. They are pursued because they are criminals, plain and simple.
The politicians who are calling the loudest for “police reform” are in many cases, racist. They will deny that, but what else do you call people who are more interested in hiring a police chief because of his/her skin color than whether he/she is qualified for the job? What else do you call people who excuse criminal behavior because of the perpetrators’ race? What else do you call people who demand lowered hiring standards for minorities or more minority officers when those same minorities often fail to qualify because of poor education or criminal backgrounds?
Police reform does not start with forcing officers to record every contact with the public. It does not start with ordering officers to stand by while rioters destroy property and injure or kill people. It does not start with hiring police chiefs based upon their race, sexual orientation or sex. It does not start by lowering hiring standards so that felons and the poorly educated qualify. It does not start with bad laws that deny people their basic constitutional rights and criminalize every stupid choice people make.
Police reform starts with hiring qualified police chiefs. It starts with providing quality training on all aspects of constitutional policing. It starts with hiring quality candidates, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation. It starts with allowing police officers the discretion to enforce the law without demanding certain numbers of physical arrests or citations.
It starts with holding high hiring standards. It starts with allowing supervisors to retrain or discipline officers for bad behavior without jumping through unnecessary hoops to make sure the union is happy. It starts with demanding that people comply with the lawful orders of the police. It starts with laws that are constitutional and protect all people and hold all people to the same standard. It starts with reforms of the mental health system so that it deals with the mentally ill so the police don’t have to.
There are bad police officers, just like there are bad politicians, bad teachers, bad doctors, bad lawyers and bad people in all occupations. Police officers don’t like bad police officers either. We want them gone, too. They reflect poorly on those of us who do our jobs right and follow the rules.
The police are not the enemy. Stop treating us like we are.
(I am a) proud police officer.