Whatever Happened to Our Police?

Area police assemble in Ferguson, Mo.
Area police assemble in Ferguson, Mo.

How did this ever happen?

I have been asked this question from time to time and I have a theory.

It all began after 9/11 – September 11, 2001 and the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Almost over night it happened. We went to war. We provided federal dollars to local police to combat terrorism. The move toward community-oriented policing ceased as our police slipped back into old and bad habits. The community was potentially an enemy and so police prepared for war.

For example, we have a large population of Muslims in America along with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs. The men who attacked us were from Saudi Arabia and they were thought to practice Islam; therefore, the entire population of American who practiced Islam came under surveillance. It was a surveillance not only by federal and military intelligence agencies, but also by local police.

And the intelligence that was needed was determined to be gathered through spying and not relationships.

Here’s my take on all this. If we had continued to press for more community-oriented police practices. Put officers into our nation’s many diverse and ethnically rich neighborhoods, we would simply have gained the information we needed to protect our nation by just being there.

Everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood. Everyone want their children to be educated, get a good job, and succeed in life. A threat to this is a threat to everyone – not just Muslims.

Having neighborhood police officers in every neighborhood modeling the values of our great society would have made all the difference in the world. Instead, we marginalized Muslim neighborhoods and morphed into a style of policing the culminated that night last year in Ferguson.

It’s time to stop the war and get on with policing safe streets in safe cities. And the very best way to do this is through a 1980s strategy called “community-oriented policing.”

Find out more about it HERE.