Theft is a crime that is offensive to everyone, but theft doesn’t have to be monetary. Some seem to be so caught up in political correctness and guilt that we have stopped considering the insult and damage we are doing to the reputation of good people. Destroying a good reputation without cause is theft and everyone should be offended by that.
I am certain you can think of many dirty words but the ease with which the word “racist” is thrown out on good people is not only unfair, it is disgusting. This is particularly true when used to describe law enforcement personnel or departments, without any substantiated evidence, who put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of society. The word seems to be used by anyone who doesn’t like the outcome of any decision that affects any “people of color”, or anyone who opposes, challenges or differs with any “person of color”. How many times, under President Obama, were people labeled as “racist” simply for disagreeing with his position?
Dictionary.com defines racist as: a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that one’s own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others. In law enforcement, I have come across a few, very few, of these people. I don’t know of an officer who would not have the same reaction as me, these kinds of people make my skin crawl.
It is time for law enforcement departments and leaders to challenge this defamatory word and defend themselves and their people.
The unjustified use of this word causes morale problems in law enforcement, which can be seen in the lack of retention and candidates to fill those vacancies. Its use also creates a victim mentality that has justified unprovoked attacks against officers and those who dodge responsibility for their actions.
Of the 987 deaths (from Washington Post police shooting database for 2017) involving people who were shot by police in 2017, about 23% were black. That seems disproportionate if you consider that total black population in the U.S. is about 13.3% and that is how the argument is usually framed when the label “racist” is used. Let’s look at some other statistics from the FBI in the most recent data released in 2016. Of homicides committed in the United States involving all races, 52.6% are committed by blacks. If you consider that most of those are committed by black males the number seems unimaginable. Let’s look at some other statistics involving black Americans: Rape 29%, Robbery 54.5%, Aggravated Assault 33.3%, Burglary 29.1%, Larceny 27.7%, Motor Vehicle Theft 30.7% and Weapons Violations 41.8%.
When you consider these numbers and the percentage of crime committed by black Americans, the “racists” name calling seems to evaporate into thin air. In fact considering the percentage of crime committed by blacks more closely resembles the 23% killed in police shootings. People want to argue about race statistics, that they must not be realistic, but no one questions the disproportionate numbers raised by sex, from that same year, when the FBI states that homicides are committed by 88.7% of males.
Stealing the reputation of law enforcement agencies and their officers, when there is no justification, is unacceptable and it is about time the leadership educates themselves with the facts they need to defend this honorable and heroic group of people. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream, that one day his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, is turned upside down by these lies and statistics.
The problems in the black community are values problems and not racial problems.
The American police officer does more to help the black community by trying to protect the innocent from the wolves who lie in wait. Wouldn’t we help our entire society more by considering the causes of the broken values that would allow about 7% of the population (black males) to commit 52% of the homicides and other disproportionate crime than defaming the name of American law enforcement?
Tim Barfield is in his 35th year as a police officer. He started as a police officer in a rural village before transferring to an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He spent 32 years in that department gaining experience in many areas of police work. In 2014, he accepted a position as police chief for another department. He is a husband, father and grandfather who has a love for police work and police officers with a goal of helping them succeed in a great profession. His responsibilities and desires have included patrol, traffic, DARE, SWAT, training and supervision. He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. He continues to learn and instruct on subjects with an emphasis on awareness, police survival mindset and ethics.