Some are saying that “good cops” need to speak out. I’ve never seen such a thing happen when a black or brown person has ended up dead at the hands (or “in the custody”) of local law enforcement. At least, nothing that caused actual change. What we have seen is the law enforcement and cops union spin machine take over and their defenses go up in record time. Meanwhile, citizens protesting murder-by-cops are immediately tear-gassed, harassed by cops-on-horses, or, ultimately, ignored, which only leads to elevated protest tactics.
As we’ve seen in Minneapolis, it seems that even the prosecutors have found ways to tell us how the evidence may not be there for charges against the four cops. That’s nothing new. Chauna Thompson, the Harris County deputy who, along with her husband, murdered John Hernandez, was let go by DA Kim Ogg, even after being indicted, for the same excuse. And we all remember how deputies were protecting Thompson and her husband at the county jail when they were allowed to turn themselves in. It’s sort of like a line of Minneapolis cops protecting the home of Derek Chauvin, huh? I’d like to see video of Chauvin and his buddies at his processing.
No, it’s not that “good cops” need to speak out. At least it’s not the only thing that needs to be done. Besides, the “good cops” don’t seem to get the attention of the “bad cops” and their defenders. And empty platitudes of support from Houston Chief Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Gonzalez toward Minneapolis when their own departments have killed as many as six black and brown men recently without releasing bodycam video and with weeks having passed without any results as to the investigations will not bring about the changes for which people are protesting, either.
UPDATE: The murder-by-cop of Nicolas Chavez has been handed over to the FBI. This is the one where a suspect who was on his knees was shot numerous times by multiple cops and it was caught on cell phone film. Acevedo hadn’t heard of a need to investigate the other kills-by-cops. Which leaves me unsatisfied.
Yes, prosecuting murderous cops would be a good start. For the local DA, even putting bad cops through trial would be something. We’ve all seen some poor schmuck railroaded by DAs for low-level crimes for the sole purpose of driving up DA win-loss records, but we’ve also seen the kid gloves with which cops are treated when accused and charged with police brutality, which has left us still demanding change. So, what kind of change?
There must be a change in law enforcement, systemic and cultural. The current practice seems to be about defending the entire culture, even when the bad apples act up. Black and brown people are dying at the hands of law enforcement because of this LE culture that thinks of itself as the judge, jury, and , at times, the executioner. Even the recent behavior of the local Chief during an attempt to clear the jail of low-level unbonded inmates because of the pandemic had him putting on a show for the law and order crowd.
Those who are in charge must lead the change, and those who refuse to change must be fired. It’s time to stop the media show of getting puffed up whenever their authority, tactics, and their culture are questioned by the citizens that pay their salaries and elect those who are supposed to be their bosses. And it is time for the diversity of a city to be represented in citizen review commissions with honest-to-God oversight and watchdog capabilities. Not the kind that are created for political shows and appointments. Those are just a few changes. I’m sure CJ reform groups have something more substantive that has gone ignored by those in charge.
It’s a change that seems to be promised every time there is a state-sanctioned murder, but is seldom achieved. Politicians and the media must stop treating state-sanctioned murder as a public policy debate between being tough or weak on crime. And if someone does treat it like a debate, end their careers. Too many lives have been lost and more will be lost as long as political games are played and solutions are avoided to win those political games.