Police Reform Won’t Happen Until More Americans Think There’s Something to Reform

slain officers

Let me preface this with illuminating the victims…

The gunman (after shooting his ex-girlfriend, who pleaded for her life) shot and killed Officer’s Wenjian Liu and Rafel Ramos, 32 and 40, respectively. Ramos had two sons, one a 13-year-old. Liu was just married three months ago, his newlywed bride, according to the New York Times, is said to be “inconsolable.” Understandably so. It’s hard to imagine her pain.

Today, Eric Garner’s daughter, Emerald Garner, came to the New York City Police Memorial to show her support.

“I just had to come out and let their family know that we stand with them, and I’m going to send my prayers and condolences to all the families who are suffering through this tragedy,” she told ABC News

It’s almost universally agreed upon that their deaths are sad and senseless. Yes, there are a few that cheered it on, there is a small segment that chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops!” I’m against killing, so that’s messed up.

However, as Radley Balko reminds us, “It’s possible to both be appalled by senseless executions of cops and angry at unjustified killings by cops.”

Yet, if you listen to the rhetoric coming out from right-wingers, talk radio and the like, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not only have blood on their hands for stirring up the environment for a senseless police killing, but that the protesters need to shut the fuck up and go home. Bill Cunningham on 700 WLW today said the protesters are “domestic terrorists.”

Former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir (1996-2000) said, “I have seen times when police bashing has resulted in officers doing the minimum necessary to compete their tours and go home safely to their families.”

thin blue

Aside from my problem with referring to it as a “tour,” furthering that problematic link to the military, that’s chilling. It’s as if any critique of policing is met with blanket statements of “cop-hater” and now worse, that it’s the cause of violence.

Point me to one single quote from de Blasio, Holder or Obama, hell, even Sharpton, that in any way, shape or form bashes the police or even remotely calls for violence. If de Blasio, Holder and Obama represent the spectrum on “police bashing,” then the spectrum is unimaginably narrow with respect to our discussions of policing in the United States.

Freaking de Blasio himself has said that protesters need to step aside. What? If anyone thinks liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, are all that much different on the spectrum of police sacrosanctness, then I don’t know what to tell you. They aren’t.

Safir said he agrees, if an officer does something wrong, they should be investigated “thoroughly and prosecute and punish those who commit wrongdoing.” Unfortunately, every fact says the complete opposite: That police operate with impunity and such impunity is bolstered by an American public, pundits and the like that don’t even want you to criticize the police, much less institute any type of real reform.


Unlike how many times police officers kill citizens, we do know how often police are killed in the line of duty, as in “killed with felonious intent by a suspected criminal.” According to the FBI, it’s never been safer to be a police officer in the United States. This in juxtaposition to the incomplete data the FBI does keep on how often officers kill citizens, cited as “justifiable homicides,” where it’s been climbing to its highest level since 1994 last year.

Again, from Balko, in terms of raw numbers, police are at their safest since WWII. As a rate of death, they are at their safest in over a century. That’s 100 hundred years. And it’s not just the killing of officers. Assaults on officers are down, too.

Meanwhile, all of this is taking place as violent crime itself in all areas, whether committed by blacks, whites or whoever, has been declining for 20 years.

That incomplete data, that operating with impunity and all within the climate of, “It’s not okay to critique the police,” is the reason for the protests and the frustration. That’s not even touching the racial element, either. The sad tragedy of Officer’s Liu’s and Ramos’ deaths do not change the need for police reform.


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