Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bashing Black Police Officers

     Sometimes this blog just writes itself.  News and Record Editorial page editor Allen Johnson decided to address diversity in law enforcement personnel in his June 8th column "Thinking Out Loud".  He begins by giving what amounted to a golf clap to efforts by former Chief of Police Ken Miller to address diversifying the department and even gives a brief mention of an upcoming breakfast forum being held by current Chief Wayne Scott designed to further address this issue.  On its' surface the article "appears" to be about diversity.  Then the real agenda rears its' head.
     Let the bashing continue.  The News and Record in general and Mr. Johnson in particular has used the past month to stage a crusade against the Greensboro Police Department.  Whether it be inaccurately portraying a lawful arrest of two brothers as being "racially motivated", writing an article about the passing of a respected police captain that included an unsubstantiated accusation from 20 years earlier or comparing Greensboro to incidents in Ferguson and Baltimore, our "news" (?) paper has continued an irresponsible and inflammatory attack on our department as if they want a major incident to occur here.  The ruse at the beginning of this article was a diversion merely to get to its' intended target; black police officers.
     Mr. Johnson states; "having black cops on the force does not necessarily guarantee that black citizens will be treated any better.  Because, in some cases black officers may want so much to impress their white peers and supervisors that they are objective and impartial, that they actually treat black citizens worse to prove themselves".  He quotes a Professor Delores Jones-Brown from John Jay College of Criminal Justice who accuses black officers of stereotyping black males as much as white officers to "prove themselves as worthy of the police culture, or demonstrate to their white counterparts that they are not being more lenient on their own ethnic group".  He references an NYPD officer by the name of Sean Forbes and quotes him in this article as saying "the reality is, some of the guys I deal with are worse than white cops".  These quotes are from an article written by Mitchell Hartman entitled "Does diversity make a difference in policing"? that can be found on the website marketplace.org.  
     Mr. Johnson gives examples of what he considers to be black officers fulfilling this point of view.  He points out that in the North Charleston shooting of a fleeing black male by a police officer that the second officer on scene is a black officer who shows the "same indifference" toward the victim as the white officer and even suggests that he stood by and did nothing as the white officer "planted evidence".  He then skips directly to Baltimore to point out that three of the six officers in Baltimore are black.  How in the world does Mr. Johnson know whether or not the black officer in North Charleston did not observe and report to his superiors what he saw?  Is that officer supposed to show rage and disdain on scene or should he carefully and professionally observe so he can accurately report?  Don't you think that this black officer's punishment for doing what Mr. Johnson insinuates would be reported in the media; was he charged as an accessory to murder?
     The Baltimore case continues to disintegrate by the day.

     During my 29 year career as a Greensboro Police Officer I worked with and for many police officers that happened to be black.  15 of those years were spent as a street level patrol officer and I had 3 black male zone partners during that time.  One of those was a legend in recovering stolen cars and worked his entire career in the street.  Two others rose to the rank of Captain and Assistant Chief respectively.  Not one time did I ever feel like they were trying or felt any need whatsoever to "impress me".  All three had calm, professional demeanors and communicated well with everyone regardless of who they encountered.  They did not generate complaints.  In fact I have worked with and for hundreds of black officers and this depiction does not apply to any of them.  
     What they would not hesitate to do was to point out to folks in the black community how their choices and decisions were causing most of their issues with police.  Is this being "harder" on people of color?  Most folks agreed and understood but a few would start calling them "Uncle Tom's" or "sell outs" for daring to hold them personally responsible for their actions.  These were the folks that seemed to believe that a black officer would and should ignore the crimes they had committed because they were black.  I am beginning to wonder if those in our midst, the opportunistic antagonists and the extremist media, feel the same way?  We have seen excuse making and enabling in our public schools for years and that it has caused a severe problem with discipline and achievement.  It now seems to have seeped into society in general and is being promoted by extremists.  Everything is someone else's fault and personal responsibility has no place in our society any more.  We are traveling down a slippery slope and editorial articles and TV shows constantly bashing police officers undermine their authority and ability to protect citizens.
     As a white male officer, I often could pick out white folks that were suspicious based on my experiences dealing with white folks all my life.  Black officers have life experiences based on dealing with black folks all of their lives.  Why is it "stereotyping" if they are making observations based on their experiences?  Are you suggesting that a black officer's perceptions somehow convert to white officer's viewpoints the second they put on the badge?  The rhetoric is out of control and the constant attacks on police as if the majority of officers are beating people up or discriminating against them is irresponsible and just plain false.  This is just another angle used by Mr. Johnson to bash police officers.  The agenda of the News and Record is getting old especially in light of their refusal to print any dissenting opinion.
     Diversity in law enforcement has been a goal of every department for years.  Just when we begin to make some headway, along comes the News and Record to bash black law enforcement officers.  When you are constantly attacking a profession, constantly reporting inaccurately with no corrections, constantly accusing police of discrimination, constantly depicting police as oppressors and now accusing black officers of stereotyping black citizens, how do you expect us to successfully address diversity that you say we need?  Editorials like this one serves no purpose but to stir negative emotions.  It is divisive.  It is subversive.  It certainly does not serve the greater good of our city.  In this case it demeans black police officers, depicting them as insecure and dependant on white officer acceptance.  In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.  I'll put my experience of working with black officers up against that of every college professor in the country; journalists need not even be discussed.     
     If harmony within our community is ever achieved, would the News and Record have anything to write about?        


  1. Well said. Though I'm sure the knucklehead journalist has much better insights than you because he has so much more experience (tongue firmly planted in cheek)!

  2. agree. It is harder to use the infamous "race card" when the authority figure is of the same skin color. I respect these officers who continue to go to work and provide unbiased service on a daily basis only to receive this bashing from both sides.