[COMMENTARY] Police culture needs to change


In the wake of yet another police brutality issue, people are finally beginning to ask the questions some Americans have been asking with each shooting for quite some time now.

Why did this have to happen?

The details of the shooting of Justine Damond, the Australia woman who was wrongly killed by a Minneapolis Police officer, are still slowly being released to the public. However, despite what little information is being released, the fact that most police officers are still unwilling to simply call out poor conduct or misconduct of their fellow officers, highlights a big piece of police culture and why some charges never turn into indictments.

This is apparent in the case of Frank Serpico. Serpico, an NYPD officer in the 60s and 70s, was an outstanding officer of the law who saw fit to report on police corruption. Because of his “whistleblowing” however, when Serpico was severely wounded during a drug operation, his colleagues left him to die. He survived thanks to the help of a citizen who called an ambulance.

While perhaps not as extreme, this still goes on today. Officers are unwilling to report poor conduct of their colleagues or are simply too busy watching each other’s backs.

What is perhaps the most toxic about this culture, however, is how it bleeds into society.

Today, after two trials over the course of nearly a year, the murder and voluntary manslaughter charges will be dropped in the case of Ray Tensing, an officer who shot and killed Sam DuBose during a traffic stop. DuBose, at the time, had no front license plate.

Regardless of what you think about the case, one thing is clear. No one seems to want to indict a police officer. The jurors in this case, and many other cases, can often not come to a conclusion on a case and, chances are, they will probably not deliver a guilty ruling.

Juries in these case almost always tend to “hang” or become “deadlocked” or they simply rule in favor of the officer.

So-called activists who are in-favor of the police, will always side with them, no matter what. That is where groups like “Blue Lives Matter” come into the rhetoric.

Even still, there is perhaps a strange phenomenon in the Minneapolis case.

The roles are reversed. Instead of a black person or a person of color being killed, it is a white woman from Australia. And instead of a white officer, the officer is of color. Mohammed Noor, a Somali immigrant, along with his partner, Matthew Harrity, responded to Damond’s call.

To Australia, perhaps skin-color means nothing. However, to those of us in America it means a lot.

Black Lives Matter had much to say about the shooting, heavily criticizing the police once again. The organization criticized the Minneapolis police heavily, stating that their movement was never about race.

Though, aside from an article which seems to try and give Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, the benefit of the doubt, there has not been much outcry from those who take it upon themselves to shout “Blue Lives Matter”.

In fact, most “right-wing” media seems to focus on Noor’s status as a Somali immigrant, or the fact that he is a “diversity” hire. Not the fact that he was a cop who did a poor job.

So the culture allows you to speak about an officer’s misconduct only if he is a Somali immigrant? Or if he’s simply not white? Cool.

Suffice to say that, even nearly a week after the events, it seems that no officers really have much to say about the shooting, aside from the former Chief Janeé Harteau, simply stating “[Justine Damond] didn’t have to die”.

Police culture justifies this silence among those who wear a badge, while simultaneously, bleeding into society and making it difficult for an officer who has done wrong by the community they supposedly serve, unable to be properly trialed.

For justice to be done, society must do away with this unspoken rule among officers and citizens must realize that a wrongful murder, is still murder.

Take a look at the articles below about “police culture”.

Michael A. Wood Jr. discusses Justice Reform

The “Blue Code of Silence”

Frank Serpico in the New York Times

“The Police are Still out of Control” by Frank Serpico

Jury acquits officer who shot Philando Castille



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