Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), former Orlando cop and currently the congresswoman representing the Florida 10th in the House, wrote an op-ed in The Post entitled, “My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?” It’s pretty good. Here’s an excerpt:
As a nation, we must conduct a serious review of hiring standards and practices, diversity, training, use-of-force policies, pay and benefits (remember, you get what you pay for), early warning programs, and recruit training programs. Remember, officers who train police recruits are setting the standard for what is acceptable and unacceptable on the street.
Law enforcement officers are granted remarkable power and authority. They are placed in complicated and dangerous situations. They respond to calls from people with their own biases and motives… As law enforcement officers, we took an oath to protect and serve. And those who forgot — or who never understood that oath in the first place — must go. That includes those who would stand by as they witness misconduct by a fellow officer.
Everyone wants to live in safer communities and to support law enforcement and the tough job they do every day. But this can’t go on. The senseless deaths of America’s sons and daughters — particularly African American men — is a stain on our country. Let’s work to remove it.
“You get what you pay for” is an important point. As we were discussing in the morning thread, police force professionalism is a real issue. Demings says we need to review hiring standards and practices, and she’s right about that.
But beyond recruiting and training issues, our police problem is enormously complex, in part because it intersects with at least two of our most intractable cultural pathologies: racism and gun nuttery. I don’t know how to fix it, but Demings’ suggestions are a good start.