Posted on July 20, 2020
Change policy culture
“How police unions became such powerful opponents of change” [June 6, Nation), misses options to change police culture before officer contact with a union.
The police force must be intentional and consistent in its recruiting, training, hiring and evaluation practices. Besides a critical overview and modification of training curriculum and instructors, police departments can recruit potential high school and college student applicants skilled in appropriate conflict resolution; move toward a community-led application and interview process; rewrite job descriptions; and instill clear, annually evaluative expectations in contracts as well as change interactive practices within their community.
The change will not occur overnight, but it will happen, and it’s eventually likely to filter up to unions.
Betsy Coddington, Port Townsend
‘Fly no flags’
Re: “NASCAR bans Confederate flag from its races, venues” [June 10, Sports]:
I think it is a mistake to disarm any one side in a discourse. When sports of any kind uses the arena to be political — an outside issue — naturally there will be disagreement, which we have watched get ugly.
NASCAR would be better to fly no flags other than the green, white and checkered, and ban arm bands, T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. Allow no political statements. Race cars, race drivers and race fans of all kinds, on common ground in one place, is a better opportunity for a more hopeful future.
Michael Lawrence Welchert, Mukilteo
Take a knee, talk it out
To me, Black Lives Matter is a call by a portion of our society that they be valued equally with white folks, whose lives have always mattered (with no need to even mention it), and who are largely oblivious to their white privilege.
Black Lives Matter is the social message of the time from an oppressed people. It should not be trivialized or diluted. It is a sad indictment of the rest of us that a portion of our society feels the need to have to claim that their lives matter.
Kneeling is the highest gesture of respect. I imagine a better world where handcuffs remain dangling from the belt as a peace officer and a citizen de-escalate by “taking a knee” to “talk it out.”
Joseph F. Wilcox, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, (formerly of Seattle)
Higher legal standard
As an educated, white, older male, I see the institutional racism plaguing our very core with police brutality toward our Black and brown citizens as an ever-alarming, and very public, illustration of that injustice.
I am angry. I am saddened. I feel misled. Our leaders talk about our rights, our freedom and our “beloved” history. It is shameful that it takes so many lives lost for people to take a stand and to identify it for what it is: pure hatred and unadulterated racism. Thank God for cameras on cellphones.
Police are paid to protect and defend, not declare war on our Black and brown citizens. We do not need a paramilitary force that treats minorities as an enemy of the state and our neighborhoods as occupied territories. Grappling with ingrained prejudice and corralling a new framework on how policing should materialize in the United States will be a monumental undertaking, one that needs to start now.