by Kevin Cunningham
To begin, I would like to state that I am an average white American who has never been personally wronged by the police. I have my share of speeding tickets and moving violations, but while I’ve interacted with the police I never once was in fear for my life when I got pulled over. I have no personal vendetta against law enforcement.
I want to specifically address the recent press conferences and articles where police have been complaining about being vilified for the recent events and the response that there are only a few bad apples but the rest are good. The bad apple analogy refers to a ripening agent emitted by fruit as they go bad. If the bad fruit isn’t removed, they spoil the good fruit. Yet in the case of policing, the one thing we’ve all seen is this bad fruit being left right where it is instead of being removed. That’s blue privilege and it’s not an accident.
That immunity has been built into the system to make sure that cops who target people of color get to stay on the job and face almost no repercussions. You can thank police unions for that. I am pro-union and believe that workers’ rights need to be properly represented, but the power that police unions wield more identifies it with the mafia combined with a terrorist organization. They’re able to shield cops from the consequences of abusive actions that are unacceptable in any other job. It’s a tough job and it requires enormous effort but you can’t slip up or people literally die. This is a job where you HAVE to excel and be what we’re told officers are supposed to be for society. Not only do we have cops that don’t excel at protecting and serving the public, but we have cops that took this job to do the exact opposite of that. Police unions make that possible.
The institution of policing was designed & constructed to be exactly as it is today. Laws were passed when the Civil War ended to help white people legally oppress non-white people, and that tradition has carried on since. Here are some recent examples: Nixon created the war on drugs as a way to target minorities, which Reagan further amplified. Bush Sr. started the program to give military surplus gear to police but only if they used it within a year of receiving it. Mayor Bloomberg escalated stop and frisk “policing” in New York City. Clinton got funding from Congress to add another 150K police to the streets and concentrated them in high crime (see low income) areas primarily populated by minorities. The list goes on and on.
Now let’s talk about the actual police officers and the job itself. The requirements to become a cop are shockingly low, considering what the job entails. You need a diploma/GED, an entrance exam which some middle schoolers could pass, and 6 months at the police academy. Those are the qualifications to receive the authority to arrest or kill someone with almost complete consequential immunity if you do a poor job. That produces a career that is a beacon for toxic masculinity.
All of these recent events have our policing system sitting front and center for all the world to see. The public is demanding real accountability from the institution that says it’s here to serve and protect everyone but, only actually protects a select few. The response from police to the call for reformation and accountability is even more violence against peaceful protesters. Though removing funding from the militarization of the police and investing in social programs would not only help people who need it, but make the job of police easier. Police still won’t support these measures.
The “good” cops should be speaking out for this reform, as it’s long overdue. They maintain that there are only a few bad apples, but aren’t trying to remove them. They complain about having a tough job while beating peaceful protesters or running into them with police vehicles. You know who does something like that? Villains.