Accountability can protect good officers - Catholic Courier

Accountability can protect good officers

A chilling message was sent as five police officers were killed and seven others wounded in downtown Dallas on July 7 as they were monitoring peaceful protests against the recent killings by police of two African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

That message says that justice not found through the courts will be sought in the streets. Who is killed won’t matter as long as somebody who represents the uniformed "enemy" dies.

This is worse than an attack by an invading enemy from another country!

One has to ask: What kind of person gives up on waiting for justice through proper channels? Who would take the deplorable step of murdering police officers because of what they represent and not because of anything they’ve done?

News reports surmise that the Dallas police shooting was planned well ahead of being carried out. Only an opportunity was needed.

I’ve known all along who gives up on waiting for justice because I’ve lived among them.

They are the products of an absence of shared values. Values that result when people are exposed to the best education possible, enjoy stability and nourishment in the areas where they live and have morals drilled into them from an early age.

They are also spiritually starved, for I believe no faithful believer of God would dare do such a thing.

In one sense, police and the courts have done this to themselves. In far too many cases, they have protected the guilty among them and left the majority of competent officers unable to maintain order with their collective integrity questioned time and time again.

Officers in Baltimore, for example, in whose custody 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in 2015 from injuries to his neck and spine, are walking like runway models. Of the six arrested for various charges, three thus far are free today, one is currently on trial and the others are awaiting trial. Similar scenarios are repeated nationwide.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-cop. Too many have helped me and my family during my lifetime for me to go that route of ignorance.

What I am is pro-cop. I want to see the courageous men and women on whose shoulders rest the maintenance of order in our society be able to do their jobs without having to carry the weight of bad-seed colleagues. Far too many of the rogues have been allowed to skirt justice out of some misguided fear that, if they go down, all police will go down.

That’s absurd.

I’ve said it once. I’ll say it again: The criminal justice system in the United States must hold police officers who abuse their authority accountable — not after weeks of paid administrative leave in the wake of killing unarmed citizens whom officers say they felt threatened by, but immediately.

They must wait in jail like the rest of the men and women who are assured that they are innocent until proven guilty. And when videotaped evidence against them is indisputable, they must be convicted without hesitation.

Their lives and the lives of their colleagues could depend on this.

Greene was an associate editor at Catholic News Service for nearly 22 years.


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