Unfortunately, today’s situation seems similar. Now is the time for a new generation to stand up and make the pledge we, who were new to policing, made many years ago.
“We professional police officers can pledge equal, fair law enforcement regardless of a man’s race, color, or creed. May this be a public pledge of good law enforcement to our community.”
That same year, in 1968, the Kerner Commission on the causes and prevention of violence in America published it’s report and concluded we had two separate societies in our nation, one white, one black; separate and unequal.
Letter to the Editor Minneapolis Tribune January 1, 1968
To the editor: There has been much discussion of the presentation of police-Negro community relations on the Public Broadcasting Laboratory of KTCA-TV, channel 2, on Dec. 17.
The program was designed to explore police-Negro relationships in a number of major American cities. However, the program more clearly illustrated the sociological process called ‘polarization,’ in which two major opposing factions in society draw and split into separate camps.
The danger lies in that there remains no choice of a neutral middle ground for a person to objectively explore the situation. Everyone is forced to make a choice, either ‘them’ or ‘us.’ This impending polarization of our society is a threatening sign and indicative of the many complex social problems we have. They can be considered warning signs to a democratic government.
Within this entanglement of social problems stand the nation’s police. However, the men who represent law enforcement that Sunday were, as a group, much to be desired and were not representative of today’s young, professional police officer. It is this police officer who will be making the important command decisions in the very near future.
Those of us who consider ourselves professional law enforcement officers are very disturbed by the impending polarization of society. We recognize our role as representatives of government, but we also realize we have a duty to represent the Constitution of the United States. We recognize our fundamental duty is to serve mankind as set forth in our code of ethics.
We recognized and understand the Negro’s struggle through history, his emergence today, and his longtime distrust of the police. We suggest that police officers and Negroes might change their attitudes by first changing their behavior towards one another. We are all slaves of our ignorance and prejudice, but racism, prejudicial attitudes, or even stereotypes have no place in any American community.
Today’s police hope that the Negro community realizes that the police are professionalizing, particularly through college and technical training programs. We realize that education is the key to our advancement. We have not been the cause of poverty, housing segregation, educational problems, or occupational difficulties that has plagued the Negro. However, we professional police officers can pledge equal, fair law enforcement regardless of a man’s race, color, or creed. May this be a public pledge of good law enforcement to our community, Minneapolis.
Police Officer David C. Couper President, Local Chapter Lambda Alpha Epsilon Professional Law Enforcement Fraternity Minneapolis, Minnesota