Posted March 2, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

Fuck Civility?

Letter to the Editor

By Connor Quisenberry

First off, let me say that I do not mean to offend anyone, or intentionally counter the opinions or beliefs of any group of people.  I am writing this because I believe that the opinion piece from the February 1, 2017 issue of the Cooper Point Journal, titled “Fuck Civility! Student Response to Police Chief Stacy Brown’s Comments on Campus Protest” by Georgie Hicks, represents a certain worldview that I do not agree with, and I felt compelled to state my opinion on the subject.

Despite my differing opinion, I found that the article was well written, and is very persuasive in its argument.  Georgie Hicks does a good job of breaking down Stacy Brown’s comments, and provides convincing arguments for Brown’s lack of understanding on the current “political atmosphere, on this campus or the nation at large.”

However, Hicks later goes on to write, “Brown says that she cannot talk to people who don’t want police at all, painting them as unreasonable, which seems par for the course with the school’s dismissal of the fact that policing is a racist and classist oppressive tool used to keep down and imprison the most vulnerable citizens.”  I can agree that the police force can be interpreted in this way, but Hicks claims that this is a fact when she says, “the fact that…”  I believe that any subject can be interpreted from multiple viewpoints, but Hicks seems to suggest that the only thing the police are is a “racist and classist oppressive tool.”  I find this to be narrow-minded, and an expression of an unwillingness to see other opinions on the issue.

It is my belief that a police force, or some group or organization that enforces the law, is a necessity in a modern society.  Without a designated group that has been entrusted to enforce the law, it would then be up to the citizens of every community to take the police’s place.  However, this contradicts the current criminal justice system; a citizen cannot arrest another citizen, even on allegations of criminal behavior.  If you make it legal for people to do this, then there would be the problem of conflicts of interest.  Say you get into an argument with someone, and then that person threatens to arrest you on false charges.  That would not only shut you up, but seriously damage your relationship with that person.  The courts would be constantly flooded with false accusations stemming from personal conflicts.  The point is, there needs to be a clearly established group of people who enforces the law.

I understand that there are many problems with our police, but completely disbanding them would mean that they would lose their source of income, and they would have to find a different job.  I think it would be better to initiate reform within the system, so that police officers can be more easily held accountable when they abuse their authority.  A committee of community members could be set up to monitor policing in each district, and state in the country.  There could be better screening for police recruitment, and mental training to eradicate the idea that the police are above the law.  We can lecture them about recognizing racial profiling, and make policy changes, such as using deadly force as an extreme last-resort.  A more self-aware police that lack impunity, and see themselves as servants to their community (instead of seeing themselves as catching the “bad guys,” and enforcing the law with an authority complex) would be more beneficial than abolishing the police force altogether.

When I see Stacy Brown I do not see her as a racist, or a sexist.  I see her as a person who is trying to make an honest living by enforcing the law.  That, of course, doesn’t mean that she isn’t a racist, sexist, has an authority complex, or a belief that she is above the law.  But until I am given concrete evidence to prove such accusations, I cannot see her as an inherently bad person.  In other words, she, like every individual—no matter their race, gender identity, or occupation—should be seen as innocent until proven guilty.  We cannot see Brown as simply a symbol of police oppression.  That dehumanizes her, and makes assumptions about her based on stereotypes of police officers.  You can be a police officer who joins the force to advocate reform, and open discussion with the community on the grievances that the police cause.  Instead of just saying “All Cops Are Bastards (ACAB),” let’s advocate that there needs to be changes within the criminal justice system, and changes to police conduct.  Instead of fighting the police as a whole, let’s work with them to prosecute the police officers who abuse their authority, and promote the officers who actually treat all community members (regardless of race, social standing, gender, etc.) with dignity and respect.

It is considered controversial to accuse our military forces of imposing America’s imperialist national interests by invading sovereign countries.  Why should it be any different for our police?  No matter how you slice it, without the police there would be a lot more murderers, psychopaths, and rapists in our communities, instead of being locked up where they can’t commit violent crimes.  I think that fighting violent crime should be the main focus of our police, instead of filling up our prisons with drug offenders because it is more profitable for private interests.  We need to fight racial profiling, legalize drugs, and ensure that a criminal’s human rights are ensured.  I firmly believe that we need to work with our police, and let them know the problems, instead of seeing them as our enemies.  Simply accusing them as enforcers of racist and classist ideologies will only create a greater divide between the police and the rest of the community, and make the police more defensive of their actions.  Let’s make the police our friends, not our enemies.