Protecting police — and Baltimoreans
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.