I grew up in a county where there was no crime and no police.
I went home once and asked my little sister if anything exciting had happened in town and she said yes, that a Catholic had a wreck on the bridge. She had spotted the plastic saint on the dashboard. It would have taken the nearest cop a couple hours to show up and write up his report, and he probably did not arrive wearing a belt with a stick, a Taser, Mace and a Glock, and he probably did not have a dog with him. He did not ask for backup. He probably did not have military-like training.
We had black people in Owen County. Is it racist to lump them all together and announce that they were all peaceful, hard-working and well-educated people? They lived at or near a town called New Liberty. New Liberty is older than Liberty, and both are west of West Liberty. When segregation tended to keep people of a hue close to each other, police did not feel compelled to start trouble with people of one color who wandered into the territory of people of another color. When blacks, they were colored people then, came to Gratz to play baseball, they came in a caravan of used Buicks and Oldsmobiles. There was safety in a caravan.
So I may not be the person to reform the relations between police and black lives, but will offer a few suggestions anyway.
Never miss a local story.
We need to get those cops out of cars and on foot. We actually got a good start on this, when Ford quit making Crown Victorias. Police went to Chevrolets and couldn’t catch anybody. A good bicycle would be better, and if a cop wants to take somebody to jail, he can call a cab.
We need gun control. More specifically, we need to disarm the police. In England, police do not carry firearms, and thus do not have to use them.
In America, the people who adore weapons and collect them and caress them and spend their time going through police-equipment catalogs usually end up being police. I have always said that those of us who do not know martial arts never seem to be accosted by gangs of Indonesians carrying bamboo sticks, while those who do always seem to, and likewise, somebody who has devoted his life to thinking about how to use a weapon is far more apt to create in his own mind a need to use one.
We need to get rid of those police dogs. Maybe not antifreeze, but civilized people do not need the symbolism of vicious dogs snarling at the poor.
Police are not soldiers, and we need to quit supplying them with military stuff and training them to see themselves as soldiers. Soldiers need enemies, and police do not.
Judges and juries need to quit pretending they believe what police swear to. No one else in court is allowed to lie routinely. People who have a police car behind them do not weave. Police do not stop people merely because they have a tail light out. Not all those stopped for DUI have the exact same characteristics.
Gov. Bevin just appointed a panel to study criminal law in Kentucky, and just like always, it is 90 percent full of prosecutor/police/punishment-freak types. There are almost no defense attorneys on this panel.
Criminal defense attorneys probably understand the problems in the criminal justice system better than anybody, including judges, but they never get respect enough to be consulted on matters of public policy. It was just such panels and their lack of diversity that recommended us into the mess we are now in, in which everything that is not prohibited is mandatory.