Defunding the Police is a choice for Anarchy
Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, said that the police were citizens that carried out the duties of public order and safety that was incumbent on everyone in society. In other words, the police were given a mandate, and sacred trust, by fellow citizens to serve and protect society from anarchy on their behalf.
Today some citizens question whether these guardians and protectors of society have forfeited the right to serve because of the misbehaviour of a few police officers. A growing mistrust of police is being fuelled by political agendas, media, and special interest groups that view the police as a visible target that is easy to exploit for their own purposes.
In this age of technology what appears to be inappropriate behaviour by the police is easily uploaded onto the internet for public consumption and critique. Actual investigation and evidence often lead to conclusions contrary to public opinion and contributes to an ‘us’ against ‘them’ mindset. This type of mindset degrades the public trust in police.
Police departments must strive to strengthen the public trust by modeling openness and transparency. Citizens of all stripes should be encouraged to go for a ride-along, participate in realistic shoot-don’t shoot training scenario’s, citizen and youth police academies and volunteer activities in order to familiarize themselves to the unique challenges and stressors of policing their fellow citizens. These ride-along opportunities should be mandatory for police commission members, city and county council members and judicial officials involved in the application of the law. Media, clergy and community leaders would also benefit from first-hand exposure to the reality of evil in the actions of their fellow citizens, and the difficult tension between justice and compassion.
Communicating the efforts police officers are doing to alleviating suffering, providing solutions to systemic issues, and caring for the marginalized should be part of the strategy police departments can use to inform the public and rebuild trust in the community.
Society is looking for, and expecting, authentic, compassionate and courageous police officers willing to go above and beyond the call of duty on their behalf. Police departments should be willing to admit mistakes publicly and be ready to make the necessary changes. The public recognizes sincerity and is willing to extend trust when the good of society is the goal of its police department.
Citizens that have experienced on a personal level the dedication, commitment, bravery and compassion of police officers will tell their fellow citizens that the ‘sacred trust’ is in good hands and the ‘public trust’ in the police has been restored. Sir Robert Peel reminds us that without the consent, and engagement, of the citizens policing is impossible.
Everyone in society makes choices for good or evil. Those who choose evil actions are a threat to civil order and good governance. Anarchy is a choice to let evil run unchecked.
Choices have consequences!