To the police officers of America,
You guys have been in the news of late, but lets be honest with ourselves you guys have been in the news for awhile. Only now the tone has changed. Instead of news reports showing footage of another drug bust or shootout, stacks of cash and men handcuffed, standing behind a stash of weapons. Instead, we’re being shown footage of officers killing civilians under questionable circumstances, and that’s frightening for the both of us. I think it’s obvious why you all might be scared. We’re attacking your character, what you stand for and questioning your morals. For some, we may even be questioning their very reason to wake up in the morning – to do good. I won’t apologize for putting you guys under the microscope, we’re only looking for what, if anything, is wrong. You exist to promote health and safety in our communities, to provide structures and enforce governance. To protect the most important piece of property, we own, our lives. If something you are doing is providing the opposite of that, it needs to be corrected. I hope we can all agree on that. I am sorry for you though, as I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, but you have the opportunity to come out a better man/women/department.
I think I understand your ploy, but I’m not convinced you see ours. By ours I mean your average American who lives next door to you. We get up early and go to work, skip lunch so we can afford to go out to dinner, we look forward to drinking on the weekends, watch Game of Thrones and pretend to hate Monday as much as everyone else does. We, mostly, drive the speed limit, pay our taxes and stay within the boundaries of the law. We watch football, don’t understand why all of Europe thinks soccer is so cool, talk crap about the other team, and we just celebrated our independence by blowing shit up in the sky. That’s who we are. Now do you want to know why we’re scared?
I mean do you really want to know, not so we can argue about whether or not it’s irrational or logical but really hear why we are scared? Because if you do, I’ll tell you. It’s because we know more. Thanks to Google, Youtube, and social media, we are an informed people. Granted we are informed about some weird and strange things, we are informed. Which is an amazing progression in society. We know more, and what we know we know more completely. We now see multiple sides to every story. Before the media, and I’m not pointing fingers or blaming anyone here, but for awhile the media was only able to show one side of the story, and that was your side, but we’re humans, and we thrive to hear both sides of the story. Journalist risk their lives to get stories so they can get the other side of the story. It was only a matter of time before we heard the other side of the story. Enter smart phones.
Now we begin to see both sides of the story, and what we’re seeing is making many of us question what we’ve been told. And we’re frightened. I’m frightened. I’m frightened that one day I’ll get a call and one of my family members or closest friend is going to jail, or worse is dead because they were caught with drugs. I’m worried that my life will forever be turned around, that someone I love dearly and who holds a piece of my world together will be taken away from me. That they will spend their life, their one existence in this life on this planet, in a cell. Locked away from everyone, all because they ingested something that made them feel good. Or worse, they will no longer be alive. That kind of sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean if you called me up and told me my best friend was caught with bodies in his basement, yeah I’d tell you that you were doing your job, thank you, now please lock him up (we never really that close anyone.) If he were endangering the lives of others, yeah he needs help. Treatment or incarceration. But if you tell me you shot him while trying to arrest him for possession of drugs… That doesn’t seem right.
Hypothetically if someone is suffering from depression, takes an illegal substance to feel better, and now they’re in jail for it, next to the murders, repast and that one hypothetical friend I mentioned last paragraph, that just doesn’t sit right. Murders, repast, thieves, cheats, they all have one thing in common, they take what isn’t theirs. They take life that isn’t there’s, they take belongings that aren’t theirs, and we punish those actions accordingly. We don’t see a thief getting arrested and put on death row, and yet we see drug users getting sentences greater than that of real criminals. And what’s the drug users offense? That they took something to make themselves feel better. To feel happier, or less anxious. That it made them more confident or able to relax. It relieved pain or other discomforts… Sounds like the kind of “crime” that should be treated, not punished. But we’re only seeing these people being punishment, and now we’re questioning the justice in your punishment. It just doesn’t sit right with us, and we’re worried that it does with you. It’s like we’re punishing those who are already suffering.
The people I see filling our prisons are mostly drug-related criminals. If we take the number of drug-related crimes, the gang violence, the horrendous crimes commuted by the Mexican drug cartel, the drug addicts, you’ll have mostly drug-related offenses. That’s a concern because we know whenever statistics are skewed, that’s an indication we need to take a closer look. And here we are doing just that. What we see reminds us of prohibitions. Not only did prohibitions fail to enforce and maintain the law, it also caused more crimes. So if the department that is supposed to enforce the law and reduce crime is now in fact perpetuating crime, that’s a real concern. Prohibition was ultimately a huge failure, it didn’t work and made things worse.
You can see the similarities between the war on drugs and prohibition, can’t you? We can, and then we start getting worried and scared that the very people who are supposed to protect us and our society are actually perpetuating crime in our society. And we are scared because you have the government behind you. You have billions of dollars, endless resources and hundreds of thousands of people behind you. We have but our own voice, and you are a force that has the right to take away our voice. So yes we are scared.
We’re scared that the laws we allowed to be put into place are inherently flawed and that encourages dubious morals and has only further exacerbated the drug problem. We’re worried that the laws you are all dutifully enforcing are killing thousands of young men and women in America and around the world who’s only crime was crossing a line we drew ourselves. In essence, we’re scared to say we were wrong. That we made a huge mistake and now we’ve got to back peddle. Which will cost thousands and thousands, possibly even millions of people their jobs and livelihood. We’re afraid that we messed up so badly that pulling back now would cost too much and we’d rather keep moving forward. The problem is, we can’t. We can’t move forward when something is doing the very opposite of what it’s suppose to be accomplishing. Morally, we can’t let this go on if it’s true. We can’t just duck our heads and tell ourselves it’s the cost of waging a war.
This is us, saying we might have made a mistake… In fact, it looks like we did. In fact, the only people who don’t think so are still only reading your reports and the news. They’re not reading the facts themselves, they’re only hearing the facts that are reported. They’re not listening to both sides of the story – yet. Now that news organizations are picking up stories trending on social media, we’re bringing the story to them. The other side of the story. This is happening. You can hope the focus will shift, that the news reports will find something else to report on to take our attention away, but those days are nearing an end. The internet exists for those people who don’t forget and now it’s leaking into the news. My unsolicited advice to you is to stop fighting it and let us exam the departments. Regardless of the how it ends, how many people lose their job or the economy falls out, if it ends with a reduced rate in crime, if it ends with our cities, our streets, houses, brothers and sisters, friends, cousins… our sons and daughters being safer. Would you not have it any other way? Would you rather continue existing in this dichotomous relationship or accomplish what you were created for?
I’m not saying we know the solution to the problem with drugs. Let’s be clear, we understand there is a real threat with drugs, drug use and dependency, and in no way are we suggesting drugs be made legal overnight. As someone who has seen first hand the destruction that comes from drug addiction, I’m not suggesting we legalize hard core drugs or anything of the nature. What we are saying is that what is being done right now isn’t working and that we have to stop if what we’re doing is actually making the problem worse.
Further more I’m an adult, I can educate myself. The belief that whatever is illegal must be bad for me is turning into a myth. That’s not always the case. Would it not be better to treat us like adults and inform us of the dangers of drugs. No bullshit, don’t tell me crack is just as dangerous and marijuana, but give me the facts. And let me decide for myself, as an adult, what I will and won’t put into my own body after you’ve given me all the facts, from both sides. Perhaps the war should be fought with information rather than militarizing our police force. Take a look at how the “war” on tobacco played out. The rate of smokers started declining once the public was made fully aware of the dangers of smoking. We could learn from this.
I know this is long winded and getting length, but I need to address one last thing. Right now you are in the limelight and are accused of being racist. You are adamant that you are not racist but we are seeing patterns that resemble racism, which is handy because now we can say you are all racist and that is the problem with the high incarceration of African Americans. It’s convenient to believe that the reason we are seeing reports of young black men being killed by police officers are because you are all racist. In reality, the truth might be much closer to us not wanting to admit we put in place laws that lead to thousands of unjust imprisonments and even deaths. It’s so convenient to throw the blame on the police force rather than admit we are also responsible.
One of us is wrong but quite possible both of us are wrong. I know what’s being reported on in the news is suggesting racism in the police force, but what might actually be happening is that our laws unfairly target low-income families by providing a high incentive to deal drugs. We know statistically a majority of minorities are low-income families, which would explain their higher crime rate. Our laws artificially make it look like low-income families commit the majority of the crime by making something that should never be illegal a crime. This would explain why it looks like racism to us, but, as you are say, isn’t.
So it’s best for us both to face the music. To admit, we may have been wrong in supporting and enforcing the war on drugs. That are methods are wrong and counterproductive. That we all may be responsible for the countless and needless deaths and convictions not only of drug users but from what capitulated from us making them illegal in the first place. We might have made a mistake, and if we did we need to admit it, and prepare for the consequences that will follow. It may mean thousands of convicted “criminals” going free while thousands of police officers and law enforcement agencies lose their job. It doesn’t sound pretty when you say it, but if keeping those people’s job came at the expensive of putting innocent people’s lives behind bars… Is there even a choice?
So I get it, it’s a difficult situation for you to be. Again, I would not want to be you. However, now do you see where we’re coming from? We don’t feel protect anymore, we don’t feel safe. And when the people who are supposed to make you safe, start making you feel in danger… now that’s terrifying.
A very concerned citizen
By Douhaz , Posted here at bad cop no donut