Blue Lives Matter Too

Yes, police lives matter.  But, not in the manner of a protected class, or of spoiled children who feel they are beyond reproach.  Police lives matter exactly as much as all other human lives.  Their lives need to be respected as other people’s are, and secured as are other people’s.  I don’t want police to die on the job, and I don’t want them to live miserable, tortured lives either.

If we want to start showing more care and compassion for police lives, we can start by re-examining the job we ask them to do.  Police are often put in an impossible position.  They are confronted daily with the worst elements of our society, with us at our worst, with our worst behaviors.  Then we ask them to treat everyone they encounter with civility and respect.  Well, how can they do that when so many of the encounters they have involve violence and disrespect?  We are asking them to treat every civilian as their employer, but the job is conditioning them to treat every civilian as a suspect and a threat.

It Starts With Reform

If we care about police lives, then we need police reform.  Reforms can potentially lessen the psychological burdens of the job.  Reforms can hopefully help reduce the frequency of physically-violent encounters.  Reforms can remove the fear or self-preservation instincts that stop police from speaking up agains unethical orders or improper conduct of peers.

If we care about protecting police lives, we can start by dismantling the culture of unthinking solidarity.  If every cop has to stand by the bad cop because they cannot show disunity, then that bad cop will continue to tarnish their name, to invite retribution, and to put the good cops in danger. We can’t have police unions protecting bad cops.  We can’t have police departments firing good cops because they choose to speak up about the bad behavior of their colleagues.

If we care about police lives, we have to stop arming them like the military.  They are not trained like the military.  They are not in a war zone facing similarly-armed enemy combatants.  They are not–and should not be–under the protections of war-time law.  They are meant to be serving communities.  However, in inner-city communities, they often behave as an occupying force.  They are meant to be protecting civilians, but they are often seen as only protecting the folks who look like them or have their level of income and above, protecting those folks FROM the other civilians who don’t look the same or enjoy the same levels of privilege.

We All Play a Part

If we care about police lives, then police–as an institution–need to re-think how they relate to one another and to their communities.  Police need to speak up about what is right and what is wrong about the job they are asked to do, about the way they are instructed to do it, and about what they see their colleagues doing.  We civilians therefore have a responsibility to speak with the law enforcement officers we know and encounter socially.  We need to make them feel safe with the idea of reforming their own institutions and make them comfortable with building closer connections to the communities they work in.  We need to challenge their group-think when it presents itself, and challenge any bias or immoral tendencies they exhibit as we get to know them better.

If you are a police officer or a police supporter, I hope this gave you some food for thought.  If you are against the police, I hope you were able to reflect on how they are not always bad actors, but sometimes victims of circumstance.  I hope we are all able to grow closer in this time of crisis, rather than farther apart.  ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ is a truism, so let us all work to find common ground.

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

One thought on “Blue Lives Matter Too

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