Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sending the Wrong Message

     So the Greensboro Police Department effective immediately are going to restrict their officers from stopping vehicles when the immediate reason is an equipment violation?  To the average citizen this would seem a bit "extraordinary"; not enforcing the law.  To some this would seem like not a big deal as they seem to think "well, they aren't really important laws anyway".  Then there is the city manager and the Greensboro City Council who seem to have bought into the theory spewed by certain special interests groups in town that all police officers as part of their daily routine wake up and decide which black person they are going to mess with today?  They read the half assed investigative hatchet job published by that bastion of journalistic integrity the New York Times and decided it was the gospel reborn, using terms like "shocked" and "appalled" before they had bothered to investigate one bit for themselves.  And for those council persons that go "oh, not me" your silence in meetings may as well be approval.  We know that Jim Westmoreland doesn't have the intestinal fortitude or backbone to stand up to the opportunistic antagonists as he has single handedly enabled more criminals than any lenient judge could imagine.  Anyone who believes this special order is about anything but attempting to appease our leaders and cosmetically reduce the number of traffic stops for African Americans just hasn't been paying attention; but what price are we paying by telling officers to not enforce laws?
     Police officers have been under attack by media and special interest groups for more than a year.  Though facts in most of the cases cited have proven officers acted not only in good faith but correctly (Ferguson) the media and special interest groups still point to all reported incidents whether valid or not as some sort of conspiracy by all law enforcement to "get black folks".  I'm sure the thinking in keeping Greensboro officers from making equipment violation stops is based on a theory that one of the reasons for the disparity in traffic stops along racial lines is that equipment violations tend to occur more in low income areas.  The NY Times article even pointed out that while stops of African American drivers were higher than white drivers, white drivers were more likely to be cited.  Speaking from experience (29 years worth) I can tell you that it tends to be true that more equipment type violations do occur in low income areas.  Why?  The folks that live in those areas cannot always afford to fix their stuff.  Feed my kids this week or fix that head light?  Officers are aware of this and usually show leniency and offer warnings to those drivers.  To simply dismiss those violations as being not worthy of enforcement is misguided.  Other results that are important to society often are generated from these types of stops.
     Revoked driver's licenses.  No driver's license at all.  Wanted subjects, be it for criminal violations, failure to comply with court judgements, failing to come to court at all.  Child support absconders.  These are just a few of the people located from stops generated from equipment violations.  Are we to allow those who have been prohibited from operating a motor vehicle to continue to violate the law and endanger other citizens?  Should businesses that have been victimized by bad checks or theft be told we are no longer utilizing one of the most effective means of locating their suspects and hopefully providing restitution?  Should financially strapped single parents and their children's needs be sacrificed for the sake of some politician's concern for statistics?
     Another reason they are important is that people who are in violation of these things tend to be transient; we do not have good addresses to find them any other way.  Another fact is that in these low income areas there tends to be a large pedestrian population at night; are we to allow cars with no headlights to operate in small, dimly lit neighborhoods with heavy pedestrian traffic?
     Do we want to send the message to our law enforcement that though we have trained you, vetted you in our hiring process and kept records on your performance we are now giving in to a small but loud group who reads an article written several states away based on half investigated statistics and are now removing some of your discretion as a result?  We no longer have your backs because these loud people are making us uncomfortable.  That's a real morale booster.  
     Hey City Council, you want to reduce equipment violation stops in Greensboro?  Deal with some REAL numbers.  14 % of Greensboro citizens on food stamps.  20% of Greensboro citizens living below the poverty line.  Greater than 6% unemployment in Greensboro not including the folks who have simply stopped looking for work.  All state highs!!  Add these numbers to the fact that we have the highest property taxes in the state and we have the reputation for being the most unfriendly business city in the state and it's easy to see why low income families cannot afford to keep their cars in good repair.  Fix these numbers and I promise those violations will go down.
     It is real easy and even "politically fashionable" to dump everything on the police these days.  It's made even easier by an electorate that turns out at an 11% rate to simply rubber stamp the same politicians in office.  The 11% showed up so they get to have their say.  I was part of the 11% and I am determined to not let this pass without holding everyone accountable.
     Police officers aren't perfect; we are human beings making split second decisions with the constant threat of Monday Morning quarterbacking by people who have zero clue about what our job is like.  The media and special interests want to hold police accountable, fine.  We hold ourselves accountable, always have regardless of what some loud people may say and have no problem with it.  Common sense and practicality demands that everyone involved in this process be held accountable and that all sides are treated fairly; and that includes the police.
     It's high time the leaders in Greensboro took their collective heads out of the sand and stop refusing to admit what the causes of our problems are.  Throwing money and picking on police will not make food deserts, failing businesses on the east side go away any more than it will make new businesses appear.  New businesses will not invest on the east side or anywhere else in our city if they cannot be assured their assets will be protected.  Like it or not to deal with the real heart of the economic problems in this city you NEED the police and you had better start defending them.  If you continue to tear them down how can you expect them to be there?  Greensboro will not improve one iota without police involvement.  The Greensboro City Council needs to hear this message loud and clear, even if you are one of the 89% of citizens that did not bother to vote!             

6 comments:

  1. Somethings in your article I do feel has some merit and I'm not going to speak to those things we actually have more in common than we disagree on. However what is missing from this article is the fact that we're not just dealing with the New York Times article in the Greensboro police and their mistakes and errors and just complete disregard for their policy and procedure, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of black lives being lost from the scene of the crime to the police station, even inside the police station black lions are being slaughtered, beating killed and left for dead. It's not just a '' small loud group '' it is the current candidates that are running for the Democratic nomination for president, it is our very own president, it is the families that have been abused and forever changed by police across this nation, that is having a bigger influence then the changes that should have happened a long time ago in the city of Greensboro then just a Greensboro resident. The New York Times article doesn't have any new numbers that part I do agree with however it speaks to the numbers that the citizens of Greensboro have known and that people on the city of Council have known that Greensboro has, and will continue to have racial inequality and institutional racism until it is addressed and stop at the route and that is with educating everyone but particular the police force the culture of the community that they police the most. The black citizens of East Greensboro don't want encounters with the police. I was also a part of the 11% that voted I think if people were to do polls bad it was quite equal the number of African Americans that voted from the 11% vs. White Greensboro citizens. We care about what happens to this city and all of its citizens. But all people are not being killed and murdered by the police, black people are. And all people lives matter when black labs start to matter in this community and across the nation. No one is saying or has said that all police or wrong or all police are bad. The issue is is that the police is having difficulty policing their own police force. The police are ignorant of how to facilitate conversations about race and accept accountability that there is a problem in this community. It took the New York Times article for the City Council to confess that there is a problem publicly, for the police chief to have to start some form of accountability because if you take away half of the statistics that are quoted in that article and you can legitimately dispute them, it still shows a major issue when it comes to racial inequality in Greensboro. AND THAT IS THE POINT! #BLACKLIVESMATTER

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  2. Mr. Black Mumba,

    Responses such as yours is what makes an effective blog. You took the time to read the article, came to the conclusion that you did not agree with some of it and made an informed, intelligent response. You and I probably do not agree on everything but one thing we can agree on; there is a communication gap that needs to be addressed and constructive conversation had to overcome these differences. Our politicians, both Democrat and Republican, and those running for office now are also a huge part of the problem. Too many candidates and current office holders are jumping on the bandwagon with no offers of real solutions. And while problems do exist there are also events that have been blown way out of proportion and politicians that have "jumped the gun" on passing judgement before all facts are laid out have been even more of a problem. Adding to the fury is a lack of admittance when they have been wrong.
    There is no magic wand; without communication and at least attempting to understand both sides there will never be a solution. Too many people have benefitted from keeping the two sides apart. The police is not your enemy and doesn't want to be. Our common enemy is those who would spew hate and refuse to attempt cooperation and understanding. Most of those are running for office or sitting in office and using this issue to further their own agendas. We need new leadership politically and also in our neighborhoods.

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  3. I appreciate your response and point of view.

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  4. So should the next step be to stop investigating homicides? There is very clearly a disproportionate amount of suspects arrested for that crime in Greensboro.

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  5. Does any of this really affect the Police? Consider: for the first time that I know of, GPD recently had to extend the application period for a police academy, due to lack of interest. They used to have a surplus of qualified applicants.

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  6. Personally as a father I encourage everyone to reflect on the truth and reality that there are citizens who are being treated unfairly and who are being subjected to situations just because of their race. I support the movement that as a community there must be solutions to the years of racial impact that our city and state has become accustom to. I support there must be plans implemented by the City of Greensboro to address: ECONOMICS, HOMELESSNESS, HEALTH CARE, and EDUCATION. None of this will be resolved overnight BUT TO DO NOTHING IS WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE!!! Solutions that require everyone to be held accountable for all levels police, citizens, business owners, leaders, elected officials, nonprofits, social service agencies, etc. Black Lives Matter!! Lee

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