In Featured Contributors, Judiciary, News, Race Relations

America is in for a rude awakening soon if this attack on law enforcement and the justice system continues. Even before the incidents in Ferguson and New York, police departments all across the nation were having trouble recruiting and retaining qualified officers. The best recruiting source used to be a police family but now officers are talking their sons and daughters out of signing up. It isn’t the physical danger of the job as much as it is the fear of losing their home or in some cases, their freedom. When the economy returns I predict mass retirements and resignations.

Police critics would have you think that race is a factor in an officers decision on what actions to take, whether it is a stop, an arrest or use of force. In my 36 years as an officer I can tell you that race has little or nothing to do with performing ones duties. Racial profiling complaints are a common if not daily occurrence with police work but more likely than not, the officer has no idea of the race of the person driving the vehicle. In most of our major cities now the racial make up is at least 50% black, and in some cities, such as Detroit, over 82% of the population is black. By sheer numbers the stops of non whites are going to be higher. If you have time do your own study about profiling ,count the next 10 traffic offenses you see, you know the ones I am talking about, the ones where you want to flip someone off or you ask “where’s a cop when you need one” and then see if you can tell the race of the driver. Time of day and window tinting will factor in as to whether you can see into the car.

White officers also are well aware that their interactions with a person of color are going to be scrutinized more than that if the person were white. Why would they risk going outside of the policy or the law? In the department that I retired from, race is actually tracked and records kept. I was told of one officer that was cautioned that he had too many stops on Latinos. When he proved to the agency that his assigned area was believed to be about 99% Hispanic he was told he still needed to have some “white” contacts. To have that officer seek out a white person is in fact, Profiling.

There are dozens of cases where an officer has been killed by his or her own firearm, usually because they hesitated for one reason or another and did not react appropriately. Last New Years eve in Phoenix an officer was confronting multiple black armed robbery suspects and was holding them at gunpoint, awaiting for back up when they attacked him, disarmed him, shot him in the stomach and then also shot a citizen who ran to help the officer. Deadly force would have been justified but he did not react for whatever reason.

What the silent majority public should be concerned with is that if an officer is afraid to defend themselves for fear of unfavorable review, would they be willing to use force to defend you? There may never be a justified use of deadly force against a black suspect in the eyes of critics like Rev. Sharpton and every man or woman wearing a badge right now is aware of what they will face should that day come. Other politicians such as Missouri’s Governor and a US Congresswoman were critical of the police with the Congresswoman stating “ There still is driving while black in America”. That statement was without merit and I believe played a role in empowering those bent on destruction. Ironically, if Ferguson officer Wilson had been killed in his encounter with Michael Brown, both of those politicians would have attended the funeral for a photo opportunity and said nice things about what a great man and police officer he was.

I am ashamed to admit this now but I have been training myself since I retired in 2005 to not get involved in anything, especially if it means using deadly force. Yes, I have a concealed weapons permit but I have set a standard that I will only use my weapon if it means defending my own life or someone that I love enough that I am willing to go to prison for. In other words if I am shopping at Walmart and crazed gunman comes in and starts shooting the place up, I am running with the rest of you. I am no longer sworn to defend anyone. Who knows, instinct might take over and I still react to the call to duty, but I don’t know. I do hope that those currently sworn to protect and to serve do not think the same way I do however, or anarchy will be upon us. I think former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates said it best, “ I’d have a perfect police department if I didn’t have to recruit from the human race”.

About the Author

Bryan Muth is a retired police officer having served over 36 years on the job. He
was a representative for two of Arizona largest police associations and author of the book
“Judging the Police”

Published with the permission of the author.

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