The priority of two Pennsylvania politicians shows extreme polarity in policing debate.
The conversation around policing in America runs the gamut of issues and perspectives, and it has, to a degree, become quite polarizing.
Some citizens view law enforcement as an occupying force, while others see it as a necessary and welcomed institution. In the streets, there are protests labeled “anti-police” and rallies which boost being pro-cop.
Even politicos have come out boldly with their stances on the issues, some, the majority of them black, re-enacting scenes and movements performed by activists who shout #BlackLivesMatter.
While it can be comforting, at times, to see elected officials show solidarity with movements – regardless of which “side” their on – the injection of personal and tightly held beliefs into the political arena, particularly in an effort to influence legislation, can illuminate the polarity of the debate for maximum viewability and exacerbate the tensions to extremely caustic levels.
And though the aforementioned analysis is true for most cities and states struggling to repair the trust between police and communities, Pennsylvania offers the most unique look at the drastic difference in political priorities by lawmakers.
State Senator, Mr. Anthony Hardy Williams, is campaigning to become mayor of Philadelphia. And in that quest, Senator Williams publicly embraced the 91 recommendations provided by the Department of Justice which aim to improve the Philadelphia Police Department. However, Senator Williams added to the 91 recommendations a zero-tolerance amendment, which basically would terminate – without opportunity for arbitration – any Philadelphia law enforcement officer who uses homophobic or racial slurs.
Senator Williams’ amendment, though it brings up the fact that officers sometimes taunt citizens in an egregious way, won’t likely pass any governing body because it refuses due process to officers; it already received push back from Mr. John McNesby, President, Philadelphia Lodge N0. 5 FOP.
In stark contrast to Senator Williams’ political priority, State Representative, Mr. Dom Costa – who was the Chief of Police in Pittsburgh – wants to put forth a bill that would make it illegal to taunt a police officer.
According to Philadelphia Magazine, State Rep. Costa said:
“This nonsense that is going on today where police officers are being taunted by people and being provoked, let’s face it: We’re all human beings, and eventually that emotion will break… and that’s what they’re trying to do.”
State Rep. Costa, in this effort, is conspiring with State Senator, Mr. John Rafferty, who, according to Philadelphia Magazine, entered a resolution in the State Senate to recognize 2015 as the “Year of the Cop.”
Pushing to recognize 2015 as the Year of the Cop when during the first four months of this year the Department of Justice has issued reports calling for reforms in multiple cities shows, again, the polarity in the debate around American policing.
Everyone isn’t looking at the American policing problem in the same way, and some won’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem.
For the record, not only do I think there’s a severe problem in American policing – for starters, it’s already illegal to taunt a police dog, though nothing is on the books to protect blacks from racially charged taunts from law enforcement – there has to be a dramatic problem with any individual who thinks a police officers’ feelings should trump the free speech of an American citizen.
It’s the thinking of people like State Rep. Costa which prompts activists to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter, and ultimately, #AllLivesMatter.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™