OPINION COLUMNS

Let’s stop expecting cops to fix society

By Ken Esten Cooke | Published Saturday, July 16, 2016

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The only absolutist statement that should be made about last week’s killings is absolutely no one should ever target police to make demented points.

Last Wednesday was a dark day in our nation, our state and in the city of Dallas, when a lone black gunman opened fire on white policemen, killing five and injuring seven others.

Hopefully, the tragedy will galvanize us to stand together, to stop talking past one another and to take action that creates a more peaceful society. (We’re looking at you, uncompromising politicians.)

We should heed the words of Dallas Police Chief David Brown and Mayor Mike Rawlings. Both men showed class, yet stern resolve in the face of this awful event.

Chief Brown on Monday asked protesters to sign up and join him behind the badge. Having people police their own communities is the best way to repair suspicion and build stronger neighborhoods.

Police protected the protesters’ right to peaceful assembly, as guaranteed in the First Amendment. They shielded protesters directly as bullets rained down from a malcontent. That level of bravery and dedication is rarely seen in John and Jane Q. Public.

Brown also brought up the important point that we ask cops to do too much, from parenting, to solving school problems, to dealing with mental health, to guessing who is the good guy or the bad guy carrying a gun.

He also brought up pay issues and the difficulty in recruiting with low pay and expecting cops to raise families in an expensive market. Our local law enforcement leaders can relate to that.

We commend Gov. Greg Abbott for choosing salve over salt during the shootings and the aftermath. He did so as he was in severe pain from burns on his legs. Our Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick chose a typically divisive reaction, showing once again he is a poor leader.

We have focused enough on blame and it has only brought us a more divided society. Blaming black people for racism is rich irony. Brought here in chains, whipped, killed, forced to build an economy they couldn’t participate in, then fought every step of the way to gain basic civil and voting rights are things blacks have faced for the past 400 years. Let’s have empathy.

Likewise, blaming all cops for the bad judgment of a minute percentage is wrong. Cops must make quick decisions in life or death situations. We saw this two years ago when one of our own was shot during a traffic stop. Let’s have respect and give the benefit of the doubt.

Dallas PD was one of the most forward-looking in the country in that respect, by all accounts. Chief Brown transformed that department, reducing excessive force complaints from 147 when he took over to 13 last year.

Let’s all resolve to respect one another and ask lawmakers, not the law enforcers, to help fix what ails us.

Ken Esten Cooke is the publisher of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post.

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