I feel the need to defend law enforcement officers.
It’s not that they need me to defend them. I do fear that the fallout from the George Floyd story well might scar police officers wrongly as protests keep turning into riots.
George Floyd’s death at the hands of a rogue cop has stunned the nation and the world. I got an email from a friend in Australia who expressed concern about the culture that produced the conduct that led to Floyd’s hideous death in Minneapolis. My friend is a learned man and I will accept his analysis as legitimate.
My concern rests with the universal police community that comprises men and women who do their jobs with diligence and honor every hour each day they go to work.
My career as a journalist put me in touch with many fine law enforcement officers over the course of nearly four decades. I respected all of them; I “liked” most of them, but not all. As a reporter and an editor, the cops and I occasionally would butt heads, which is more or less the nature of police/media relationships.
However, they were almost to a person individuals with the greatest integrity. I haven’t spoken to any of them since the Floyd story exploded, but I know what they would say. They would say they are horrified at what that Minneapolis did, that they cannot fathom “restraining” someone the way the cop did to Floyd, snuffing the life out of him over the span of nine minutes.
Legitimate protests are warranted if they are aimed exclusively at the police agency in question; in this case it’s the Minneapolis Police Department. Indeed, all law enforcement agencies are being handed an opportunity to examine closely their own policies regarding the detention of suspects.
What happened in Minneapolis is horrifying in the extreme. It doesn’t get easier to watch the video of George Floyd being confronted by the police and then plead for his life as it is slipping away under the cop’s knee pressed against the back of his neck.
I will not accept that what occurred nearly a week ago is standard operating procedure among all law enforcement agencies and among all the men and women who suit up every day to “protect and serve” the public.