Pro­tect­ing po­lice — and Bal­ti­more­ans

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Nathaniel J. McFad­den, Bal­ti­more The writer, a Demo­crat, rep­re­sents Bal­ti­more’s 45th District in the Mary­land Se­nate.

Stu­art Mey­ers wrote an in­ter­est­ing com­men­tary (“Pro­tect­ing our pro­tec­tors: po­lice,” Aug. 19). Ini­tially, I was re­luc­tant to read it in its en­tirety be­cause I fully ex­pected it to of­fer an­other “war on po­lice” re­frain that has come to per­vade some forms of law en­force­ment dis­course lately. This was read­ily ap­par­ent af­ter read­ing his ini­tial de­scrip­tion of the “be­gin­ning of a so­cial up­ris­ing in Amer­ica that most law en­force­ment agen­cies are ill pre­pared to han­dle.” But upon closer in­spec­tion, I found the writer made some valid points about sup­port­ing and un­der­stand­ing the crit­i­cally im­por­tant role po­lice play in pro­tect­ing all of us.

Af­ter all, many of the things Mr. Mey­ers talks about make real sense and should have our strong sup­port. I was fine un­til he got into his dis­cus­sion about what he de­scribed as “per­haps most im­por­tant” fac­tors af­fect­ing law en­force­ment — “un­treated mental ill­ness and the rise of racial ten­sions in so­ci­ety.” He then pro­ceeds to dis­cuss ef­forts to ad­dress mental health is­sues but noth­ing about racial ten­sions as it re­lates to cul­tural di­ver­sity. Beyond the fact that I was trou­bled that he tied the two to­gether, which some­how led me to con­clude that Mr. Mey­ers equates the fight for fair and just treat­ment with mental ill­ness, there are too many in­di­vid­u­als in our so­ci­ety who be­lieve that cer­tain peo­ple in cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties are not “like us” and there­fore are not en­ti­tled to be “pro­tected and served.”

While I don’t think he meant any di­rect slight, I think he and oth­ers un­con­sciously ac­cept this premise. On the other hand, the re­cent U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­port, the “thugs” ref­er­enced in a pub­lic email by a top Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice of­fi­cial and the re­cent rev­e­la­tions in the case of Aaron Win­ston whose arm was bro­ken by po­lice in Fe­bru­ary re­veal deeper sys­temic prob­lems. Mr. Mey­ers is cor­rect: Some­thing is oc­cur­ring in law en­force­ment and it’s how we work to­gether to re­spond to it that will be the true test of whether jus­tice is blind.

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