TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Cops and The Daddy: A Meeting of Minds and Hearts

"What is Community Policing?
Community policing is many things to many people. It is a problem-solving partnership between the police and the community that is incorporated throughout a police department's culture and operations. Community officers and neighbors become jointly responsible not just to catch criminals but to help wipe away the community decay that fosters crime. It is the belief that neighbors know their community best, just as beat officers know their beats best, and that the neighbors and officers must work together to share solutions."
--New Haven police brochure

Listen up. While on vacation, The Daddy had dinner with a group of cops. They invited a brutha to dinner to thank him for the work he had done as Manager of Security of a large public housing complex called The Minneapolis Housing Authority.

Of course we discussed The Prez's press conference in which he said the Cambridge police department acted "stupidly" by arresting a world-renown scholar, after he (the scholar, Dr. Gates) had shown a police officer his ID indicating that he was not a burglar but a guy in his own home. But the discussion quickly turned into broader frames of references, namely black community-law enforcement relations.

They said that not only the black community but the city at large has no idea of the stress that cops go through in a day's work. One gave domestic violence was an example and several chimed in.
They said each domestic violence call can be dangerous, Each situation is different. Each situation is unpredictable. The guy who just slapped his wife around could be holding up in the house with a gun in his hand just waiting for a knock on the door. On the other hand, he could already be gone. He said cops, knowing the potential danger, have to be ready. They said that, in these situations, cops don't have time to diplomatic and friendly to neighbors. It's all business.

They said the same is true when they stop a car, especially at night. You just don't know what will transpire, especially in violent neighborhoods. They have to be ready, including being ready to fire their gun.

They also talked about how being a cop is a thankless job and how this is true in the suburbs as well as in the inner-cities. They said that, since police have to operate under a smaller budgets, they have fewer cops on patrol to assist residents and few investigators. So basically, cops don't deal with, say, drugs in a neighborhood, unless those neighbors yell and scream at the head of the police precinct or elected to do something about it.

Another perspective

The Daddy said that, from the black community's point of view, all they see is an occasional cop rolling past them usually with people in it who don't look like them, who don't live in their neighborhood, and who are scowling at them like they want to stop the car, pull out a gun, handcuff them, and kick their ass. All they see are cops showing up long AFTER someone has been robbed or killed, long AFTER a home has been broken into, looking disinterested and unmotivated to find out who did it.

On weekends, all they see is the occasional blinking of lights where cops are either searching for thugs or have killed a neighbor, thug or not. They see and hear cops being very aggressive, yelling at people to get face down on the ground or calling people names. In other words, they see cops more as a kind of gestapo militia than their protectors.

The Daddy said the community needs to see cops get out of their patrol cars, walk the streets, visit the businesses. They need to see cops speaking to them in a respectful manner, calling them by their first names. They need to listen to people complain about their backaches and rheumatism, because, after that, they'll tell them where the most recent drug house is and the new neighbors with a lot of cars pulling up front and driving around to the back. In other words, they need community policing, not police containment.

A meeting of minds and hearts

And what did The Daddy say community policing for!!! As soon as he said it, all the cops around the table began to smile and tell stories. They said that, when they were growing up, they saw community policing all the time. Cops walked a beat, stopped and chatted with them and rubbed their heads. Several cops said that, in the neighborhood in St. Paul, where they grew up, cops always stopped and talked with business owners. Another said his dad, who was a cop, practiced community policing before the term was invented.

The Daddy told them how, when he was late for school, cops would either walk him to school or ride him in there in their squad car. They would squeeze his ear real hard and promise to arrest him next time he was late. And they weren't hearing a brutha's lame excuse that he was late because he had a lot of sisters, and they wouldn't let him into the bathroom. "So get up earlier! Don't let me see you late tomorrow!" He admitted that he hated their asses at the time but understands the wisdom of their behavior and community policing now.

In addition to community policing, The Daddy and the officers agreed that both black communities and the police need to find ways of getting to better know one another. One said, "If the community really knew the stress involved in their work, they would be less inclined to think negatively of them or let their kids call them names." The Daddy said that, regardless of funding levels, cops need to find a better way of working with black communities. Deep down, they need each other.

Do you think relations between black communities and law enforcement can be improved?
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Reference:

1. The Politics of Community Policing
: Rearranging the Power to Punish by William Lyones
2. Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society by Amitai Etzioni

5 comments:

R.J. said...

Definitely. A long, long time ago I remember the police in my neighborhood making their presence felt by making friend with the neighbors. Not now. I don't know when it all changed for me. Maybe when I joined the club Charles Blow talked about in his New York Times op-ed?

MDW said...

I completely agree. There's a great documentary PBS did a few years ago called Every Mother's Son that goes into the work done by mother's of victims of police brutality to hold their murderers accountable, and it makes a really powerful argument for community policing.

Christopher said...

"They also talked about how being a cop is a thankless job...."

No one put a gun to their heads and forced them to become cops. If they don't like it -- quit.

I suppose I'm the rare white male who holds most cops in contempt and I don't trust them. Period.

I've lived in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Phoenix and now New York and I've seen first hand how cops treat people of color and members of the LGBT community.

It's been my experience that cops are small-pricked losers, armed with a gun and a Tasers, who prey on the very citizens who pay their salaries like hyenas prey on Wildebeests.

My philosophy about cops is simple: don't get in my way and I won't get in your way.

msladydeborah said...

I have cops in my family. Two generations to be exact. It is one of those public service jobs that you have to want to do. It can be very dangerous for all the folks involved.

I grew up in the midwest. We had officers that everybody knew in neighborhood. They interacted with the people and they often did more service than we want to admit.

I've also had negative interactions with cops. It is just the way it goes in this society.

You raised some great points daddy.

MacDaddy said...

RJ: I don't when it began to change either. It may have something to do with the black power movement, which included as one of its demands, control of cops in their communities. There was a big push against them during this time. Remember: There were numerous so-called riots and lots of repression against the Black Panther Party, which some black communities were starting to like. They started clinics and free breakfast programs to serve kids before they went to school. So the repression against the panthers caused people in some communities to develop outright hatred against the police.

MDW: Yes, I believe I saw it. I can't remember the name, but it was either that documentary or one similar to it. Powerful.

Christopher: I hear you. I've seen the worst and best of police. I've had to stand quietly while they called me names and tried to provoke me. But I've also seen police officers in Internal Affairs go after rogue cops and thumpers (cops who love to beat up on people) with a vengeance...I still love your blog.