Tension between police and ____________. Fill in the blank. You can fill it in with a race. You can fill it in with a government. You can even fill it in with words like emotions, or mental/emotional wellness. Are the recent events in Dayton anything new? Not even close. Are they expected. Usually. Is it easy to take? Nope.
I noticed in the DDN article it interviewed the FOP president. And that’s likely since he’s familiar with speaking from the police perspective. So I want to put in my two cents. Not that you asked for it, but I give free of charge. So for clarity’s sake, I don’t know (or have ever met) Chief Biehl. So these are my thoughts and not the DPD or any police agency.
First I want to address some points that were brought up. Then add a few of my own. Then give YOU some things that you can do (in or out of Dayton).
1. “Hire more black officers”. The city TRIED to do just that. They lower the passing qualification scores. Then they changed it to be more interview based. You can only hire from a pool of people WANTING to be hired. Since the community has a problem trusting the police, who wants to be the police. If you want more Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, or Eskimos, then more qualified people from those groups need to step up and be available for open positions.
2. “Bring back community policing”. I don’t know Chief Biehl, and so I can’t say this for certainty. But knowing police the way I do, I’d guess he’d LOVE to do that. Have the same guys on the same beat. Have smaller areas for each officer to cover. Have the ability to send those same cops to neighborhood parties, meetings, etc. But they do what they can with what they have. Alot of departments are discouraging overtime, and comp time is not easy to schedule. So to get closer and do more with the community, you have to have more officers on the street. Then there are costs. Not just extra costs for officer salary, but things like training, more vehicles (and more maintenance on an aging fleet of vehicles), higher health care costs for the department, etc. So when the city is saying “cut…cut…cut” and the people asre saying “more…more…more” something has to give.
3. “Seek input on long standing issues” . Ok, it’s one thing to ask people what they feel. “I feel the police are mean…uncaring…corrupt…” But ask them why. “My friend said…” “I saw a video…” “My friend knows someone who…”. In court we call this HEARSAY. Now if you tell me specifics that you were pulled over in_____ and Officer _____ seemed rude to you that’s an issue we can address. But you have to be ready to hear an answer that might also point to you. Or open to the fact that he just had to tell grieving parents that they could not save the toddler at the bottom of the pool.So you can say that his bad day does not have to be directed to you but (1) You committed an infraction that drew his attention and (2) maybe you should check to see if your bad days affect anyone else.
4.” Convene a review panel” – May sound good on the outside, but realistically, you have to have people on the panel who understand policing. You have to have someone who understands why you keep shooting until the threat is no longer there.You have to have people that understand what goes on in their head and what training tells them to do to STAY ALIVE. A community activist will not likely have any understanding of that. So your “unbiased” panel can not be ignorant.
Now here are some more “food for thought”.
1. We must hold our media responsible. Nothing gets attention like a bad cop story. Let’s face it, it get’s attention. Should we hold them to a higher standard? I don’t think any officer has a problem with a higher standard. But when the DDN, WHIO, or WDTN can tout as facts the opinion of a family member or friends who have little knowledge of the situation, then that’s just poor reporting. And I as an intelligent consumer demand more.
2. Sure , we can attempt to educate children that police are a force of good. But what they are taught at home outweighs what they hear at school. So maybe follow what your parents taught (or should have taught) “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” And that includes telling your kids in the store “If you don’t behave I’ll call the police and they’ll take you to jail (heard it more than once).
So there are my thoughts. Like them or not. If you have some better ideas or concerns, let me know. Or better yet, contact your police department (During business hours on the NON-EMERGENCY line). Understanding starts with parties understanding each other (and that may require understanding from you).