“Ofc. Daniel Kindly” is a veteran law enforcement officer in the Omaha Metropolitan area.
He is a contributing this post to Leavenworth St.
The bombardment of the latest “caught on tape” police encounter is a near daily media occurrence, likely leaving many to wonder: “Are America’s police departments full of out of control racists. Or is something else amiss?”
In order to be an effective law enforcement professional, one must possess the difficult ability to stand back from one’s personal biases and look at an issue from a position of neutrality.
A neutral review of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement from a purely political observer, non-emotional perspective, reveals a “strategy” (intentionally crafted or otherwise) that has been admittedly effective and arguably brilliant.
BLM has a big advantage in this debate. Policing in America, by its very nature, has always been a somewhat controversial industry.
It’s an easy target.
Even the most ardent police supporters bristle when they receive a speeding ticket from a traffic cop. Even the most law abiding parent shudders at the thought of a child or grandchild being arrested with force or jailed. “Use of force”, even when performed legally and perfectly, is a distasteful thing for the average citizen to witness. Normal every day folks are understandably uneducated in its appropriate application.
Toss in a few well timed cell phone video moments saturating us via social media and (Shazam!) a “national policing crisis” is born.
But from this police professional’s perspective, the crucial issue getting lost in this emotionally fueled firestorm of hashtags, riots and pledge of allegiance kneeling sessions is a little thing called the “real problems we are facing as a community”.
The biggest problem we are facing isn’t the disproportionate rate of law enforcement contacts faced by our fellow citizens in economically challenged portion of the black community. That is simply a byproduct of the real problem. Rather the biggest problem is all of the other disproportionate rates of experience faced by too many in America’s poor black communities that create lifestyles that increase the likelihood of having a police interaction.
Poverty. Lack of education. Addiction. Break downs in traditional family structure. Concentration of high crime areas.
The non police driven statistics will make you uncomfortable.
It’s a sad reality that 72% of black children in America are being raised in single parent households, compared to 25% for the nation as a whole. Really think for a moment how that condition alone impacts children.
Nearly 4 out of 10 black American children live in poverty as compared to 2 out of 10 for the rest of the nation.
Black American teenagers experience a teen pregnancy rate double that of white teens and the black infant mortality rates in America are nearly 2 and a half times that of white infants.
In terms of the crucial education gap, black students graduate from high school at a lower rate than their fellow white, Hispanic and Asian classmates. Although black students make up 25% of our US student population, they comprise 50% of expelled students. Finally, although the disparity in college admission rates are recently closing, black students are less likely to graduate college than their fellow white students.
These are only a few the actual “disparities” that are standing in the way of many of our fellow black citizens’ quests to fully enjoy the American dream. And very notably, these disparities have absolutely nothing to do with policing.
Now does this mean that black American’s are “inferior” to other demographics? Absolutely not. The above mentioned statistical challenges are typically relegated to the poverty stricken portions of black community and are the byproduct of generational cycles of poverty pure and simple.
Are black Americans upset with these seemingly unbreakable generational cycles of poverty, educational and family challenges? Yes, and rightfully so. It’s a real national tragedy that deserves all of America’s attention.
But blaming the police (making America’s law enforcement professionals the scape goat) for this serious societal crisis distracts from the real problems. Blaming the police is nearly as nonsensical as vilifying your physician for the serious health condition that necessitates disproportionate health care or higher health care premium rates and hoping that emotional reaction will help you get better. It won’t.
If we, as a nation, do not put our emotions aside, stiffen our backs and actually face these uncomfortable challenges head-on, these problems will not improve. These problems will only get worse.
Have some police officers made mistakes? Yes.
Do police officers need to be held accountable when they make a bad faith mistake or do wrong? Yes. Of course.
Is any loss of life, even via the lawful application of deadly force, a tragedy? Yes.
But what seems to have been forgotten in this melee is that before there was a “Black Lives Matters” movement there already was a group of men and women who already espoused that philosophy, albeit without the hoopla. There has long been men and women who have been keenly aware of the real challenges our fellow poverty stricken black Americans face because they actually interacted with them daily in their homes and neighborhoods.
Before BLM was trendy, and trending, it was America’s law enforcement officers who strived to keep innocent black citizens, black women and black children safe from those in their community who would do them harm.
If black lives truly matter, it’s time to prove it by putting aside the distracting anti-police rhetoric and focusing on the real problems.
Leavenworth St. will have a new post up later today around 1pm.