With Baltimore the latest addition to the long list of cities whose police departments are under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for excessive force accusations, it may be time for a new national discussion on law enforcement and race relations in general.
What the Justice Department is checking for is a pattern of excessive violence used by law enforcement officers against members of minority communities, usually black males.
If the feds find such a pattern in Baltimore or elsewhere, or even if they don’t, they should come up with a list of recommendations to curb the amount of violence in U.S. urban areas so as to avoid or reduce the type of problems that have been so much in the news of late.
Peaceful resolution of conflict
They could start with police forces around the country. Reinforce the ideas that police should be properly trained, the department’s rules and regulations should emphasize the peaceful resolution of conflict, and such rules must be rigorously enforced,
In addition, officers should be educated to become more aware of cultural differences and sensitivities in the United States. This understanding of diversity should start with African Americans but also include Hispanics, immigrants of all kinds, and members of religious minorities.
Yes, the police have a dangerous and difficult job. No one is asking them to take a bullet or put themselves in harm’s way. Just do your duty in a consistent and professional way that underscores fairness, cultural sensitivity and non-violence where possible.
Mission to serve and protect
On the other side of the equation, difficult as it may sound, citizens need to see police as friends and not as adversaries if they conduct themselves in a decent manner. After all, police officers have a mission to serve and protect and should be commended and rewarded if that is indeed what they do.
Young men on the street corner could better control themselves and not allow a minor confrontation to escalate into one culminating in force or even death. Obey simple, lawful commands. Turn the other cheek instead of lashing out and resisting when a verbal slight is perceived. Sometimes it is best to let something pass.
Both sides need to pick their battles wisely so that everyone can survive and get on with their lives.