Very few Americans want law enforcement defunded and most stand for law and order. The charges that some recent candidates for elected office want to defund law enforcement was a political ploy that had nothing to do with reality.
I’ve lived in Piqua, Ohio, for 21 years, and when I’ve needed assistance from city police, they’ve proved to be competent.
Several years ago a drug dealer moved into our neighborhood. We watched as deliveries were made across the street. A family that had recently purchased property was threatening to move. I called Piqua City Police and explained the situation, and the chief agreed to send two officers to our house to talk with the neighbors.
I typed up an anonymous letter explaining the situation, sent it to all the surrounding addresses and invited the neighbors to come to our house for a meeting with the detectives. And they came, some resorting to using our back door. The officers listened, answered questions, described protective action, and promised to address the issue. On the day of the raid, we had notes on our doors indicating it would happen.
When the “For Rent” sign went up at the former drug house, I called the owner and in my toughest voice told him that we owned our homes and we would never again tolerate his renting to a drug dealer. He remonstrated saying, “They keep the place clean and pay the rent on time.” That was when I really came down hard on him and what I told him is not fit to be printed in a newspaper. Needless to say, no more drug dealers or unsavory characters.
Very recently, there was an incident in our neighborhood and law enforcement was here promptly and handled it.
What do we want in terms of reform of law enforcement?
· Creating a culture where members of the force will stand up and be counted when they observe behaviors that are at odds with what most of us understand to be human decency. Choke holds, shooting unarmed suspects in the back, refusing to tell the truth when questioned about incidents they have observed come to mind immediately.
· Purchasing and using body cameras at all times. No more of this excuse that the cam was not turned on or was out of order.
· Maintaining a national registry of personnel who have violated the standards of the profession. This might be referred to as “weeding out the bad apples.” We know they exist in all professions.
· Educating and reeducating law enforcement about the communities they protect and serve so that they are prepared to work with diverse populations in terms of age, race/ethnicity, class, religion, language, mental incapacity, and so forth.
· Employing and maintaining a force that reflects the diversity of the communities being served.
· Sending a clear message that law enforcement will not tolerate all those groups who believe that the Second Amendment allows them to take up arms and roam the streets threatening us as they revel in their sense of power.
· Maintaining statistical data that indicates successes and challenges; using task forces to determine problem areas, strategies for addressing them, and implementation of same with assessment measures.
· Providing human and financial resources to address the issues so that crime statistics go down and public perception of and respect for law enforcement is enhanced.
Our country has a checkered history in many areas. We are not perfect, but let the arc bend toward justice for all as we acknowledge our problems and work to correct them.
Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and to work with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.