Only correcting the wrongs can do that.
In the aftermath of recent police shootings across the nation, perceived correctly or not as being unjustified, a few individuals reportedly attacked Dallas-area police officers and others yesterday with targeted sniper fire, killing five and wounding seven (as of this writing).
As I have written before, perceptions of police brutality and even murder are not justifications for people to undertake their own murder sprees, not if the concept of due process, rule of law, and real justice are to mean anything at all. That said, however, evil incidents like this are likewise not sufficient justification to never question police tactics, judgment, policies, or laws in general in this country. The fact of the matter is there are bad apples in every bunch, regardless of the pedestal we place a particular bunch upon.
But, a valid criticism of the relationship between law enforcement and the citizenry is that the very nature of the State swings the balance of justice and accountability heavily in favor of protectionism for its agents. I have long said that if “this divineness between our police and our citizens… must stop,” it will never practicably come to an end by suppressing public dissent, blaming victims, by insisting that the citizenry just accept a lack of accountability for police misconduct, or by increased police militarization. No matter the infraction – from murder to speeding, or anything in between – police must be publicly held accountable via the same judicial processes and to the same punitive degrees as the constituency, if justice is to be realistically achieved and the divisiveness is to even begin to erode. Police must also police their own, and consequently insist that their colleagues represent each other with the highest degree of professionalism and public trust (this includes not protecting wrongdoers when they know they’re wrong, as culturally underpins the so-called “blue wall of silence”).
People do not have to like it, but this is nonetheless the reality of the human condition. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a simply untenable long-term public policy, and history demonstrates this quite clearly over and over again. Indeed, our own nation owes its very existence to public upheaval as a consequence of this sort of mantra.
If law enforcement officers genuinely want the public trust to be strengthened, then they will have to do their part to help bridge this growing gap, plain and simple.
These killings were certainly not justified but were easily predictable nonetheless. If this is the horrific environment we want to continue, by all means continue the class divide and inequitable applications of the law between the government and the governed.