Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The need for police to police each other

Those who distrust government often extend that distrust to the police themselves. That leads to the criticism that police have a very difficult job and do not need the opprobrium that is often heaped on them by those who dislike their enforcement of unconstitutional laws. Attention should only be paid to those who are actually bad, and good police should not be judged by the bad seeds in their company.

The law enforcement structure, consisting of both the police and the district attorneys, may very well be full of well meaning people. That cannot be denied. While it is obvious some of those in the structure entered it because of a desire for power over others, others entered it out of a genuine desire to serve or protect the public.

Unfortunately they do not police themselves enough. Every police officer who does not arrest a bad seed is in himself a bad seed because he did not do so. Every district attorney who does not file charges against a bad seed is in himself a bad seed because he did not do so.

That’s what it comes down to. People talk about “the thin blue line”, a phrase meant to indicate that police will protect other police when one of them is accused. Police will not take action against other police unless public outcry is so great (as in the case of the BART subway shooting) that they cannot afford to do otherwise.

Although solutions have been proposed, until and unless they are acted upon the only way the law enforcement structure can earn the respect that was once their due is to break the blue wall of silence.

Until that happens the bad opinion people have of the police in general, as a result of the "bad seeds", is entirely justified.

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