After reading about the senseless murder of Walter L. Scott in a place I consider home, I’m left longing for the past. I miss the days when police officers stood to protect citizens rather than collect on endless citations or hassle motorists for broken tail lights. When they treated citizens with respect, even if their better judgment harbored suspicion. A time when officers relied upon the ultimate force of their firearms as a last result.
It is imperative that we hold our police officers to the highest example of personal integrity, to a standard that can be captured on countless smartphone cameras without a single cause for disgrace.
Our communities must support them with the type of authentic understanding that is based on mutual respect rather than authoritarian-demanded obedience.
Our elected officials should endow them with the budgets to operate without want or need of programs that debase our justice system by forcing officers to seek out reasons to write tickets and issue fines.
I can look back on my childhood of smiling police officers at town parades and school career days and wonder what happened to those nice upstanding men and women. But I realize that for many, past experiences with law enforcement may have been even less civilized than they are today.
For them, and for all of us, it’s best to not look at our past relationships with the police. Rather, we should collectively define a future in which officers and citizens are co-creators of the strong communities that both sides so desperately desire.
E. Liberty Park Circle