Ferguson and “Us vs. Them”

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We have many Brothers and Sisters in harms way all over the world.  A company founded on the Special Weapons and Special Operations community means, that while the groups represent the best we have to offer, when things go sideways (and they always go sideways) bad things can happen.  Sometimes even when you are doing everything right – things still go wrong.  Monuments dot the world listing names that demonstrate that point.

Ferguson is important.  It’s important because people are laying their lives on the line for the same thing:  Justice.  Well, let me clean that up a little:  What I mean to say that the “Us” in the “Us vs them”  wants justice.  The problem, sometimes for law enforcement and the community, is that we identify the “Us” within our own group and exclude everyone else.  Make no mistake we believe in “Us vs. Them” at SWAT Life we just view the Us as a significantly large group of people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world.  The “them” is a small criminal element at work responsible for a majority of crime we fight. The exclusionary practice of the small “us” leads to shutting down at least half of a two part conversation.

Sometimes it can be exhausting in law enforcement to hear, again, that we are jackbooted thugs with badges who target minorities to fulfill some power syndrome we suffer.  In 2008 there were over 450,000 police officers working full time in the US, approximately 25% of them were a members of a race or ethnic minority group.  The 2010 Census showed that approximately 72% of the population identified themselves as “white”.  It would be fare to assume that in the 6 years since the Bureau of Justice statistics on minority police officers, that percentage has increased.   This data suggests that the breakdown of law enforcement, at least as a whole, is  representative of the population of this country.  This does sound good, but like most data collected there are outliers. Perhaps Ferguson is an outlier. If race isn’t going to be determining factor of crime then it shouldn’t be blatantly targeted at the police officers or their departments as a “look they are mostly white people policing black people” either.

Data is always interesting – about 90% of black murder victims are killed by black people.  About 80% of white people murdered are killed by white people.  What does it say about Ferguson – nothing.  Ferguson is place where people are laying their lives on the line for justice.  There in lies the problem.

Justice of late is whatever the media makes it out to be.  The media convicts Officer Wilson, blatantly plays the “race card”, and this brings people who make a living off of strife and unrest.  It brings a news media that is cop-niverous at best and cop-hating at its worst.  It all sells and it sells to a lot of disenfranchised people regardless of race.  Who doesn’t want to blame someone else for their problems?  “Right Wing” or “Left Wing” doesn’t matter – Law Enforcement is the problem . Well, at least until someone tries to take their stuff or threatens their family, or makes the ever pressing matter of being made to feel “uncomfortable”.

Cops know that most crime is committed by a small portion of our population.  Generally speaking anywhere in this country at any given time we can even list the names of the worse criminals targeting our citizens.  We know their faces, their families, the geographic location and likely a lot of their habits.  We then put that to use and target that criminal element with every legal and ethical means we have available (or at least we should be).

Something else cops know:  they know that at times in law enforcement history around the world law enforcement has been used to target racial and socio-economic classes of people.  Even today, police officers know that if the mayor or council person have a friend who thinks theres a drug house in their neighborhood all resources will be spent on “ridding the scourge”.  They know that if a politicians family members is approached by a  homeless person for food on the street, officers will told put all other work on the back burner and told to put together a two week detail to “remove” homeless people from the streets.  Recently police in a Florida city arrested several people for feeding the homeless. Sometimes just because you can do things, doesn’t mean you should.  Police discretion is a great tool and when used fairly and justly is the greatest hope we carry.  When used inappropriately it defeats years of good work in an instant.

Cops also know that some have no business wearing the badge.  They lie, cheat, steal, and abuse authority. They are a problem for us all. We all carry the burden of those who come before and don’t live up to the oath.  They are wolves in sheepdog clothing.

We are all in this together.  As the city of Ferguson and hate mongers burn bright in the night in Missouri,tensions grow.  Now we hear that it’s no longer about Michael Brown.  None of us should fall for that BS.  Just because the facts come out in the case – now you want to change the cause of the effect? The beginnings, unlike the end, do justify the means.  If you think cops don’t want to have an outstanding relationship with their community your wrong.  If you think all cops are always right – your wrong.  We would all do better by each other by just not assuming the worse in the beginning.

It’s okay to feel sorry for the Brown family who lost a son.  Good or bad by legal and community standards mean nothing to a parent losing a child. What parent doesn’t love their son or daughter regardless?  Having empathy is not condoning. Wanting to support the Wilson family and Officer Wilson himself is good.  Wilson acted within the law and the percieved and very real threat he faced.  Who wouldn’t defend him or herself?

We should all want to use the incident to work harder to be better.  Think how much easier it would be if we didn’t have to work at overcoming hate mongers and media falsehoods.

People: love your police officers.  People would sacrifice their lives for family and friends.  Fewer do it for people they don’t know or whom may hold them in low esteem.

Police Officers love your citizens (you are one of them).  If you don’t love them, then you serve and sacrifice  for something less than the greatest good.A protester throws back a smoke bomb while clashing with police in Ferguson, Missouri

December 3rd, 2014|