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Your Edge is Our Experience

September 5, 2017
[Blue Line Lawyer]

Reality and the “Racist Cop”

Google “racist cop” and you’ll get more than 2.5 million results. The articles range from specific statements made on social media to snippets of audio from police body and dash cameras. Seemingly everything is interpreted as a racist comment even when the statement or words do not evidence any animosity toward any race.

Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” This definition is consistent with others. The Oxford Living dictionary definition is “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” The notion of the superiority of a particular race points out the fallacy of the notion that racism is rampant in law enforcement and more specifically that law enforcement officers (LEOs) are inherently biased against African American citizens. Logic would dictate that for this to be true there must be some consistency in the race of LEOs to explain the consistency in their beliefs.

I recently attended a law enforcement conference with more than 5,000  law enforcement officers in attendance.  The LEOs represented all races and ages. In addition, there were male and female LEOs. In short, there was nothing uniform about the group, at least in terms of race, gender, age, or ethnicity. The notion that all of these LEOs, from varied backgrounds and cultures who grew up in varying environments, have a belief in the “superiority of a particular race” is illogical.

Racism is an individual “belief.” I have no doubt that some people who believe in the “superiority of a particular race” are in law enforcement. There are nearly 1 million LEOs in the United States so the odds are, as sad as it is, that is the case. However, this only gets law enforcement critics halfway to their espoused beliefs. The next question is what race do those LEOs believe is superior. While that makes perfect sense, many people have no desire to apply any common sense or logic to this discussion.

The labeling of all LEOs as racists is more than just inaccurate. It is dangerous. Approximately 180 LEOs have been shot in the line of duty this year, many through ambushes, and more than 30 have been murdered. This rhetoric, perpetuated though media sources as well as social media and blogs, is dangerous. Even more concerning is the fact that these same groups refuse to condemn the outward calls for the death and assaults of LEOs.

The current dialogue is forcing great LEOs out of the profession and convincing a lot of candidates to abandon their consideration of law enforcement as a career. Labeling diverse groups as racist only serves to dilute the true danger of racism. Any professional LEO would not want to work next to a true racist.

As to those 5,000 LEOs I spent nearly a week with, they answer 911 calls, get flagged down for help, and run toward gunshots without regard for the race, sex, age, or ethnicity of those needing help. For that, they deserve respect. They certainly deserve better treatment than to be labeled as racists especially by people who would never put their lives in danger for strangers. Every day, LEOs put themselves in danger-even those with contempt for the uniforms and badges worn by their rescuers. Stay safe.

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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice about a specific issue or situation. Working directly with an attorney on your situation is the best method for navigating legal issues. If you have a concern about a specific issue or situation, you should seek legal advice without delay. Contact the supreme court or bar association in your state for assistance locating attorneys in your area.