Community Policing (CP) isn’t a new and novel approach to neighborhood protection. It’s been around since Roman Legionnaires walked the streets maintaining order and enforcing curfews in newly acquired lands. It’s through the interaction of the protector with the community we come to understand the needs of the protected. The protector learns the needs of the protected. Compassion must be in the mix. It isn’t always the case as enforcement action against family breeds distrust and nurtures people’s belief they’re victims of the enforcement after they’re victims of the crime.
Individuals carry perceptions and transmit preconceptions to their children. The prejudices of the parent become the narrow-mindedness of the youth. The bigotry of the elder becomes the injustice of the progeny. As poison kills, the internal acids of prejudice and bigotry destroy and rot the relationships necessary to protect a neighborhood. Intolerance on both sides of the equation cause cracks to form in the foundation of societal cooperation. Everybody suffers.
Policing isn’t easy. Officers face dangers others only think they understand. The work requires long hours and an internal dedication to stand for principles seeming arcane, foolish and counterproductive by those not holding the same ideals. When the individuals finds they’re seemingly alone and the very people he/she took an oath to protect and serve are uncaring of the problems met and fought; disillusionment seeps into the soul and it becomes a matter of “us against them”.
This is where the corpus of the community starts decaying. This is when the protector becomes disheartened and wonders when “those people are going to do something to fix their own problems?” The servant begins distrusting the master and the master feels abused by the servant. Both communities circle their dying trust and blame the other for the wounds bleeding the body toward the undeserved death. They feast on the body while never understanding they’re dining on a meal will infect them with the angers and hurts they claim they no longer want to be a part of.
Community Policing is difficult. It requires trust. This is the same trust that’s been demolished by prejudices on both sides since the new world was discovered. It really is a matter of “us against them” in many cases and it’s wrong. It’s stupid and it’s wrong. And when an administration tries to compel change it should be embraced by both sides of the equation.
But this isn’t how it’ll be when unions band together to direct the course of the enforcer over the efforts of the administrator working for a higher goal and purpose. It becomes a different form of “us versus them”. It happens in the department and the “us” is defined by those who want control wrested from “them” who already hold that power. When the horse wants to be harnessed backwards to control the path and course of the wagon, it just doesn’t work. The horse, the wagon and the goods never get to the final destination. Bosses are bosses because they carry a different skill set into the equation. That skill set changes the simple equation to more of an algorithm because the complexity of the effort increases and the rules of algorithmic mathematics say certain rules can’t be changed.
One such algorithmic truth is this: Chiefs lead and the troops follow. When this axiom (a statement or proposition regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true) is violated we see conflict like we witness in the Baton Rouge Police Department.
And when the elders of the department, feeling deserving of a rest and the safety of an “in-the-house” position are sent back to the trenches when so close to retirement they feel betrayed endangered and disrespected. The angers of feeling disrespected rise and cause problems.
They need to pull up their big-boy and big-girl panties, shut up and put their shoulder to the wheel to work together to solve the problems. This union interference in BRPD’s daily operation is leaving Baton Rouge without a department formerly noted for its integrity, its honor and its obvious concerns for the entire community; not just those holding a union card.
Thanks for listening.