Policing: Its not just Black and White


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Tone

  1. a musical or vocal sound with reference to its pitch, quality, and strength. “the piano tone appears monochrome or lacking in warmth”

synonyms: timbre,sound,sound quality, voice, voice quality,color tonality “tone             of the tuba”

  1. the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation,etc. “trust            her to lower the tone of the conversation”

synonyms: mood, air,spirit, feel ,sound,flavor, note, attitude, character, nature,              manner, temper;

 

The Tale of Two Communities

A large backyard barbecue, the crowd overflowing into the garage and the front yard. The homeowners are in their late forties.  Alcohol fueled aggression and loud talking resulted into a complaint call by someone in the neighborhood.   Two Sacramento County Sheriff Cars Arrived with lights flashing, a few minutes later a third car arrived.

One man in the garage is agitated by the presence of the officers. The homeowner and a women attempt  to calm him.  As they were talking to him, others ,seeing the flashing lights came out of the backyard.    As one family was leaving, an officer yelled at them and told to stand near the fence.   The women said they were going home.  Another women in the crowd screamed at the officer, ” they ani’t doing nothing why cant they go home? Another officer calmly asked  them to wait.    This irritated some  of the people watching.  Some of them said, the first officer had an attitude and was unnecessarily aggressive.  Within a couple of minutes other Sheriff cars appeared.    While some members of the party were quietly leaving,others were angrily talking to the officers.  One young man, fueled by alcohol began shouting at the officers and two officers restrained him. They eventually released him.   After 30 minutes, it was all over.

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In another community,  Homeowners in the mid fifties.  A wedding party went later than planned.  Late night alcohol fueled aggression and excessive noise party resulted into a complaint call by one of the neighbors.

My friend said their were no flashing lights as the police car arrived. The officer asked to speak to the homeowner.     There was a lot of loud music in the backyard.  As the officer passed me, he said good evening.   He and the owner asked people to quiet down in the backyard,the music was turned off.    One man, who could barely stand, swore at the officer. Another attendee, started yelling at a young man who was siting at a table threatening him.    As I was watching this unfold,another officer arrived, he was very pleasant and stood silently in the backyard  as the other officer unsuccessfully attempted to calm the yelling man down.    He then spoke to the out of control man, he wasn’t loud or threatening but he was firm.  It seemed to work.

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There is a different approach, a different tone used by officers in  lower income areas. Some of the officers are aggressive and often disrespectful to members of the community.  As a result, members of that community are often hostile to the officers.

There are some officers who are intimidated by people of color. Some are predisposed to believe they will face hostility in these neighborhoods.  Its not uncommon to see police officers with the guns drawn in these neighborhoods, in front of women and children.

If your a resident of an upper middle income neighborhoods, you cant relate to citizens in lower middle class neighborhood.   You may even assume  those people are predisposed to violence and perhaps the police are justified in their actions.

If you live in a low or middle income community. If you haven’t experienced an negative interaction with law enforcement, there is a good chance you’ve heard or know someone who has.

 Adding fuel to the mistrust of police officers are the constant reports of unarmed black ,latino and poor whites being shot and killed by the police.

There some white officers who fear or mistrust people of color.   The tone and body language is aggressive.  In Sacramento, the makeup of the police and sheriff departments do not reflect the community they serve.

  Also missing is education, people often fear the things and people they don’t understand.  Members of nearly all police department across the country. Could benefit from education about various minority groups.  For example, many groups, cultures, talk loudly and aggressively. For some, outside the culture may find this intimidating.

One would think with multi million dollar payouts to citizens.  Cities leaders would be actively looking for a solution.  But this isn’t happening.    Most cities are reactive, putting out destructive wild fires.   Community meeting are short lived, fading within months.

Change is difficult, our world is changing, a compromised is needed.  But the tone has to change. It is in the best interest of the cities to encourage and support ongoing dialogue bridging not only in law enforcement and the people they serve but cities leadership. As there are some elected officials who are out of touch with segments of their community.

EVERY member of law enforcement (not just department heads) should be required to attend an community meeting twice a year to meet interested citizens.  Public Notices of these meetings should be in all forms of  media to encourage participation.

Yes, there is a cost to this.  The City of Sacramento and other cities across the country pay over a billion dollars a year settling claims and the amount are increasing each year.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country are struggling.  Some cities are struggling to recruit officers. Others are struggling to retain officers.  Many officers and police unions believe they’re being asked too much and  feel they are under attack.

The solution is daunting.

CityFella

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