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I Can’t Breathe

Being a policeman is one of the most difficult jobs in America and not everyone is qualified to do it. Like any job, some people like doing it. They want to help their community and they want to help people. They relish in the fact that the world will be a better place for their having lived in it, they   make money at the same time. It’s all good!

Like any job some just want to make a good living, support their family and make it through the day. They’re not trying to save the world.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 our country has been fighting an endless war. Our guys have been in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and in some of the bloodiest inner city, close quarter battles, that war can offer.

When they come home, they become our hero’s and as ex-military make a logical choice for our police departments. I wonder how many of these guys are still at war. When they’re in the street, do they see an enemy? Or do they see a human being?

In the 1980’s I worked as a Blackjack dealer at the Riverside Resort in Laughlin Nevada. It only paid minimum wage plus thirty dollars tips a day and was located in the low deserts near Bullhead City Arizona. We worked one hour on the game with a twenty-minute break in the dealer’s room only to return to the tables and repeat the process eight times till the shift was over.

During one of my breaks a buddy of mine told me that he used to be a doctor. In disbelief, I looked at my friend and asked how if he were a doctor would want to work in the hottest part of the world for minimum wage and thirty-dollars tips per day.

He said that one night while he was a resident a patient came into the hospital with severe abdominal pain. He and another doctor diagnosed the patient as having appendicitis. During the operation they noticed a large area of black tissue which they removed. They closed the wound and sent the tissue to pathology for a diagnosis. Fifteen minutes later they get a call from the laboratory. The black tissue they removed was not the appendix but the liver of the patient. Proper procedure would have been to keep the wound open until a diagnosis could be reached and the medical team would proceed accordingly.

These two stooges had to go and tell the patient that although he had advanced cancer, without a liver only had but seven hours to live. They left him with a phone to call his loved ones and a bible. The patient died and the doctors were stripped of their medical licenses and dismissed.

The police work with criminals in stressful situations. The doctor, works with patients in stressful situations. That’s the job they signed up for. When dealing with these criminals the police can’t become criminals.

In the case of Floyd, the officer was consumed with rage to the point of using pepper spray at innocent bystanders that were trying to get him to take his foot off Floyd’s neck. Unbelievable! No time in American history have the people been able to turn on the six o’clock news and watch a man being tortured to death while he was begging for his life. This can’t happen!  Floyd may have been guilty of passing a fake twenty- dollar bill, the cop is guilty of murder. Once the man was down and hand-cuffed he is now considered to be in police custody. This should be the safest custody there is!

In Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks, was being arrested for drunk driving. He fought the officer, grabbed his taser, and tried to kill him with it. This angered the officer. Remember, behind that uniform is still a man! But now that man must manage his anger, realize that he has the identity of the subject and since the subject is running away is no longer a threat, he can’t shoot him in the back and assassinate him. This can’t happen either!

The police can’t have a bad day. Not like this! That doctor had a bad day. His patient had a worse day. Can a pilot have a bad day? Not if he crashes the plane and kills 300 passengers. The policeman can’t have a bad day either. Especially when he kills the people he is sworn to protect and alienates forty million Black Americans who feel that police target them because they are of color.

Police departments need to be upgraded. I would increase their salary. But I would require that they have a four-year degree in which at least one semester or 18 hours of coursework in Black Studies and another 15 hours in Ethnic Studies. I would make police take these courses for two reasons. 1. He must have knowledge about the people he has sworn to protect 2. Racist people wouldn’t want to learn this.  His second- year courses in Psychology, Anger Management and submit to psychological testing to measure his suitability for policework. This suitability is everything. These courses in anger management should guide the officer who has been spit on and kicked in the groin to withhold beating the crap or torturing his assailant once this man is in his custody. This is what I mean by suitability. It’s not an easy job. But this is what he or she signs up for. His third law and his fourth year would be courses in criminal justice and policing.  His degree would be nationally standardized and so would be his tenure. If he got fired from one police department, he couldn’t work another. He would be given quarterly reviews where his performance or lack of it would be evaluated. He would be terminated and prosecuted like any other citizen if he engaged in brutality or broke the law. He could be charged for criminal acts committed under color of authority.

In Mexico if someone calls the Police they may not respond. Or they may come out in three days or a week. If they come out and the caller doesn’t have Pesos they might not respond again. With meager paychecks the police end up working for the cartels or doing whatever criminal activity they may do on the side. Or the law would be meted out by whatever powerful entity is prevailing in that given neighborhood. That’s what defunding the Police would look like. My argument is to increase the salary of Policeman and have forces of Trained Professionals. These highly skilled and well- trained individuals would be on the level of the FBI.

This 21st Century Police Department would integrate with a revitalized and tougher criminal justice system. If we are going to be tough on the cops, shouldn’t we be tough on violent criminals?  This would include toughening our sentencing guidelines especially where violence or a gun is involved, increasing the penalty for assaulting a police officer and building more prisons to accommodate the 21st century offender.

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