Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cops' Oversensitivity To Criticism Rolls On, Making Our Eyes Roll

Cops turn their backs on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
as the mayor eulogies slain cop Rafael Ramos.  
Over the weekend, cops in New York turned their backs to the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, gave a eulogy for NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, who, along with Officer Wenjian Liu, were murdered in cold blood by a deranged guy with a beef against the police.

Earlier this month,  Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt during pre-game warmups that read, "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III."

The shirt was in reference to a kid with a toy gun that looked like a real one who was recently shot dead by Cleveland Police, and a Walmart shopper who was holding an air gun (but not menacing anyone.)

And predictably, some of the police union spokespeople practically had strokes being upset over some pretty mild protests.Judging from the reaction by the police union in Cleveland, you'd think Hawkins bombed police headquarters or something.

In the case of de Blasio, police union officials say the mayor has "blood on his hands" for even suggesting there could be some police re-training to prevent deaths like that of Ed Garner, who died in an apparent chokehold during an arrest by the NYPD.

A grand jury declined to indict an officer involved in Garner's death, prompting protests and calls for reform or retraining by de Blasio.

In New York, the pushback from police is at least understandable, since two officers were senselessly murdered. But still, showing such disrespect at a funeral to me is over the top. Especially since de Blasio isn't exactly out there saying all cops are scum.

He's just saying that there might be a problem if people are dying in violent encounters with police over relatively minor crimes.

I don't have any trouble whatsoever with police reacting to, or criticizing news of deaths at the hands of police. It just that some of these protests, particularly the one over Hawkins in Cleveland are really over the top.
The local police union in Cleveland, Ohio
reacted with over-the-top outrage
when Cleveland Browns wide receiver
Andrew Hawkins wore this protest warm
up shirt before a recent NFL game.  

Police Patrolman Union President Jeff Follmer quickly sent out the following statement:

"It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know beest on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology."

Well, then.

As usual with this kind of fake outrage over a protest like Hawkins' there's some intellectual fallacies here.

"They should stick to what they know best on the field."

So what you're saying is since Hawkins is a football player, he should offer opinions only about football and nothing else?  So does Jeff Follmer have no opinions other than those that have something to do with policing?

I also saw no evidence that Hawkins denies that police protect and serve the Cleveland Browns stadium, so where did Follmer get that?

Anyway, no apology was forthcoming. The Cleveland Browns organization and the NFL said the police are free to express their opinions, and players like Hawkins can express theirs, as long as they do it in a responsible manner.

Then Hawkins unintentionally made the police union guy look incredibly stupid when Hawkins eloquently explained his protest and his shirt to ESPN after the game.

Hawkins basically said a call for justice should not offend or disrespect anybody, that he respects every police officer who "protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way."

"My wearing the t-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people."

He went on to say that his mother taught him as a youngster the unfortunately reality was there are bad police officers scattered among all the good ones.

Hawkins says he gets it that officers must make snap decisions under difficult circumstances, that it can't always work out perfectly and it's a hard situation to be in.

"But if the wrong decision is made, based on pre-conceived notions or the wrong motives, I believe there should be consequence."

Then there's this Hawkins said that goes to the heart of the matter, something Follmer doesn't seem to understand:

"I have a two year old little boy. The same two year old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the Number One reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. 

And my heart was broken for the parent of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality. So, like I said, I made the conscious decision to wear the T-shirt."

Well, then.

And when I say "Well, then." I mean it in a totally different way than when I was mocking Follmer.

Hawkins thoughtful comments are why people are up in arms over police shootings. As if that wasn't obvious.

All this publicity over police shootings have officers feeling under siege. That includes the good officers who really do protect and serve, who are thoughtful, who are professional, who find ways to somehow show grace under life and death pressure.

But criticizing, or just raising questions over why so many black people seem to die at the hands of white police officers isn't indicting every police officer in the nation. I also think these questions are actually good for all police officers.

Wouldn't they want to weed out the bad cops and promote the good ones? Maybe instead of whining, the police unions who get the vapors and are ready to faint at the slightest criticism can offer their own ideas for reform.

It seems like police and other other law enforcement have been pretty unscathed by public scrutiny over the years and maybe that's made some of them think they are above the law, which is ironic.

Or maybe a few of them don't want things to change, and think maybe it's OK if some black people get killed on the streets at the hands of white officers.

Some of the police union leaders/squawkers doth protest too much. If you overreact that much to some people practicing their First Amendment rights, maybe you're trying to squelch the attention that could lead to reforms.

I really hope that's not what's going on.

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