A Moment of Reflection: Fill in the Blank

A Moment of Reflection: Fill in the Blank

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In  our busy lives, it’s always good to take a moment of reflection. It is always critical to remind yourself that not all _____ are _____. You have to always remind yourself not to generalize, in whatever situation you are in life. The “blanks” differ from person to person.  If you’re a single man going through dating horrors, not all women are crazy. When I was single, I had to remind myself of that about men 🙂 . From a political standpoint, not all Republicans are evil, not all Democrats are destructive. Fill in the blanks.

I found myself having to have to do that frequently in the last few weeks. After coming off the heels of a widely publicized scandal, in which police officers that I knew in Miami Beach, socialized with, went to battle shoulder to shoulder with in the court room, were discovered to have sent very vile racist and misogynistic emails, I had to take a step back and reflect. After getting past my initial hurt and anger, I had to think about constructive ways to confront what has clearly emerged as a subculture of racism in a department that I actually have the unique opportunity to effect change in. But I had to remind myself that this was not necessarily the culture, but a subculture. Because not all ______are ______. Not all police officers are racist. Not every single police officer in that department was involved. But it did take a moment to get to that place. I had to evaluate all of my interactions. I had always believed that myself and people who were racist pretty much had a clear understanding; we’d look at each other, and know that we were not on the same page.There was always a certain edge that is present. It’s hard to put into words, but just how one can sense when a person doesn’t like you, it’s the same type of feeling.  But it was clear in this case that those who held ignorant views did not always act in this fashion, and were capable of hiding it on a whole new level.
Interestingly enough, several weeks before the Miami Beach emails broke, I was teaching a class to police management, and we reached the topic of social media.  A similar scandal had occurred in 45 minutes north of us in Ft. Lauderdale, and an African American sergeant asked me my opinion. Mistake #1 — never ask my opinion, because I will give it to you raw.  I basically said that anyone who would sent such emails degrading African Americans and women was a subhuman racist. I noticed an interesting shift of energy in the room, and the sergeant looking at me with panic. He came up to me after, and said “while I’m glad you said that and I agree with you, the truth is, there are some officers who really think that stuff is funny.” I looked at him as if he was an alien.  Not even two months later, the news of Miami Beach Police Department broke.
After just coming off the heels of this analysis and coming to a fairly decent place, I was then confronted with the horrible images that we all saw of the McKinney pool party video, and the actions of former officer Eric Casebolt. He has since resigned, with his attorney later explaining that Casebolt had responded to two suicide calls that day, and his emotions got the better of him. I can only hope that once he saw the video, he realized that “oh my gosh, I have a daughter/niece/neighbor the same age as did Dajerria Becton”. I can only hope that he realized when confronted with the video that his actions were rooted in anger, not an attempt to arrest someone engaged in criminal activity. I can only hope that in looking at the video he realized that he escalated the situation, and that the boys he drew his gun on only reacted to his unprofessional conduct in hurling a bikini clad girl to the ground; that the fact his fellow officers rushed over unarmed was a sign that he was over saturated and needed to step away from his position. I firmly believe that there needs to be policies in place to deal with officer stress. It is still taboo for officers to seek counseling or to complain of over saturation, which can lead to incidents like this. I believe officers need to be rotated out of certain assignments to quite bluntly, keep them sane.
I reflect back on the amazing cops I know.  I think of the African American officers who endured horrible racism in the last 20 years, but did it because they love the job and the community.  I think of the great cops of all races that do the job every day because they believe in justice, who treat everyone with respect, and are decent, good people. And I don’t want their good works to be tarnished by a few rogue nasty elements who are not worthy of the badge.  And in order to be safe, in order to have justice, we need good cops!
Regardless, I felt that I needed to step back and take a moment to remind myself to fill in the blank.  Because again if we are to ever move forward, we cannot indict an entire population for the actions of a few.
And this cuts both ways.
Remember to always fill in the blank.
M.

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