By Letter to the Editor on July 23, 2020.
I have been observing the behaviour of people for a while and in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the recent deaths of innocent black people, the response by the people has been stark, decisive, violent and the emotional binge by a few has hurt their own community.
The new cry now is “defund the police department.” That is not an answer: there are still criminals, murders to solve, thefts, cyber-crime, in addition to speeders, jaywalkers, family violence. We need the police, and obviously a better way of choosing who gets to patrol our business streets and neighbourhoods. Are the people who have until now been put in the position of hiring officers deliberately choosing bullies over the thinkers in their choices?
There is room for both in the department. If there is a barroom brawl you send in the brawn but if there is a child safety issue you need both sides in attendance. Communication is key here; the community needs to reach out to the police force when there is, for example a storm trooper with a plastic ray gun on the property so the police do not attack an innocent staff member of the store. The police need to do a better job of reaching out to the community; once-a-year events do not cut it. There needs to be community liaison all the time. If we as a community are going to survive we need to support our police force who are always putting themselves in harm’s way. We have lost some wonderful people who were just doing their jobs.
We must look at hiring practices, the psychological testing and weed out the bullies. Policing takes brain and a certain amount of brawn depending on the situation. Policing is not easy; the officers suffer from burnout and that has to be acknowledged by changing things up on the career path. Social media has exposed a lot of ugliness in some members of the police force but only the few that are bent in that direction. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. We need our police. They need more training about mental health issues and awareness about public perception and that can be remedied.
The police department is not our enemy. Hiring practices need to be changed, the psychological tests must be examined by professionals to identify what is wrong with them and fix them.
We need to support our officers.