NMA E-Newsletter #333: Does Good Police Behavior Offset the Bad?

In last week’s newsletter NMA Vice President John Bowman described his encounter with an angry police officer as well as his subsequent thoughts on police/community relations. John’s piece prompted many passionate responses from members, and we wanted to share a few with you.

From a New York Member:

This question about why there isn’t more focus on the good things police do seems to have a pretty simple answer: Because police doing the right thing is not the problem.

The NMA exists to solve a problem; the protests against unaccountable police killings exist to solve a problem. Police doing good things won’t “balance” the problem, as if to say, “Hey, sure some police kill black men in cold blood and get away with it, and some police are just collection agents for corrupt traffic systems shaking citizens down for money, but they do good things too, so it evens out!”

No, it doesn’t even out. It doesn’t make those violations go away. At best it restores the image of the police somewhat, but the police looking bad is not the problem. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. There seem to be all too many people like your heckler who are concerned with that first and foremost.

I am glad for the good police do. I am glad for the ones who do not shame their departments, but they aren’t the problem. It’s one thing to say that not all police are bad, but why raise this point in objection to people who want to stop the bad ones? As long as maintaining the prestige and respect of police is the primary concern of many people, the bad ones will slip by.

From a California Member:

Thanks for your newsletter. Very well written account of what we are seeing today in our country. In my view, fundamentally it’s all about power. That officer disagreed with you because he felt you were taking away his power, and so he exhibited his own power to you. We the people have the power, and the government wants it and apparently will do what it believes is necessary to take it from us. Consider this quote from John Adams:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

I’m afraid our government has taken on a predatory nature using the force of law as a means to provide occupation and revenue at the expense of those it was set up to protect and serve.

From Glen Smith, New Mexico:

I wonder how long it took Sue Rahr to realize she needed to support the Constitution. It seems to me every police officer swears to uphold the Constitution when they’re hired as a cop! Her prior behavior is really no different from what is going on in our government right now! From the White House down, most politicians and bureaucrats think the same way: How do we get around the Constitution? Even though all of them have also sworn to uphold the Constitution! Is it any wonder police departments engage in the same sort thinking? It is really scary that government employees at all levels are never held accountable for violations to their oath to support the Constitution. Yet, citizens, in sworn court proceedings, and military personnel, all of which take an oath to support the Constitution, don’t get this immunity. There’s something very wrong with that picture.

From an Arizona Member:

Your critic asked why you didn’t focus on all of the good things police do for their communities. Because “doing good things” is the minimum required standard for the job. If you can’t get that, then why the hell have police? I like to say that police are like a box of mushrooms—it doesn’t matter worth a damn to the customer to argue how many mushrooms in the box weren’t poisonous.

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