The word “flounder” comes to mind when I think about the current state of policing in America.
The police problem in America is now beyond a crisis — it is now a moral struggle; a struggle that seems confusing to them. They are in serious difficulty and few, if any, leaders are standing up, showing the way forward out of the present confusion.
Instead,police seem to be pursuing the ill-advised strategy of laying low, hunkering down, refusing to negotiate, and hoping all this will pass the way of other crises in the past.
But it won’t. The struggle we are now in, which has caused this floundering, will not go away.
Police are truly at a fork in the road. One road is to do nothing; wait it out, and hope public trust will return. It won’t. It’s a dead end road that will only lead to more militarization, uncontrolled uses of force, and a police who serve the haves by protecting them from those who have not — those with no jobs, no hope — and no chance. The problem is that this road is more comfortable for most of today’s police who have been trained in a militaristic atmosphere.
The other road is scary because it is mostly unknown for the majority of our police. It is the community way that cannot be negotiated by force; mine-resistant vehicles or armored police, but rather by increased closeness, empathy, openness, and collaboration with those whom they serve. This way is the only way out of the crisis and to bypass or avoid it will not only be a disaster for police, but a disaster for all of us as we lose community contact and control.
As citizens, we must demand and expect our police to turn and take the democratic, community-oriented route. We must assure them that we will support and help them as they travel with us along this road.
If this fails to happen, citizens will be forced to turn away from police in their neighborhoods and seek other ways to assure safe and nurturing communities.