by Kassandra Lamb
I almost rested on my laurels after last week’s post. After all, I had done my part. I’d helped spread the word about how black people are harassed so often by bad cops that it’s “just part of life” for them. And I came up with some constructive things that people could do in their communities.
Plus, I know that my city has some great cops!
Remember the story about the police officer going on a call about kids playing basketball “noisily,” and instead of breaking up the game, the officer joined them? And then he brought Shaq O’Neal over to play with them and inspire them.
That happened in my town. Check it out:
I’d almost convinced myself that I didn’t need to do anything more then count my blessings that I live in a great town.
Then God stepped in – in a not so mysterious way this time. Indeed, He knocked me over the head!
At church on Sunday, I found out that my rector, along with a bunch of other religious leaders in town–Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic–had organized an Interfaith Service for Racial Peace and Unity and it was happening Monday morning!
And the city police chief and the county sheriff were going to be there. So I had no excuse now to slack off.
It was a beautiful prayer service and Chief Jones and Sheriff Darnell’s remarks were short but inspiring. They echoed my thoughts that we have a great community, but went on to say that we needed to be an example to the country.
I was a bit nervous, but I screwed up my courage and approached each of them after the service and asked for an appointment.
I am now in possession of their cards, with their email addresses and phone numbers and I will call and make those appointments.
But I decided on the way home to also send them an email, before those appointments, explaining a bit about what I want to discuss with them. After all, they are very busy people.
Below is the message I’m going to send to each of them. Feel free to copy/paste and modify for use in your own community.
Dear (Sheriff Darnell/Chief Jones),
Thank you again for attending our Racial Peace and Unity Service. I am proud to be a resident of a city and county that has such fine police and sheriff’s departments.
And as a concerned citizen I am anxious to make sure that concrete efforts to avoid unnecessary violence in our city and county are being actively pursued. That is why I asked to meet with you personally, and I have set up an appointment on (time and date of appointment).
I know that you supervise some excellent (police officers/sheriff’s deputies). But I suspect that some “bad apples” do manage to slip through the screening process.
In our meeting, I would like to discuss what is being done in your department to identify and deal with overly aggressive officers, before an inappropriate shooting occurs? Is there a mechanism in place to bring such officers to the attention of their supervisors and to make sure they receive additional training and, if called for, anger management counseling? Is there a way to remove them from the force if they continue to be overly aggressive and before they shoot someone they shouldn’t?
If there are not yet programs in place to deal with overly aggressive officers, I have some concrete suggestions to offer.
I feel strongly that we need to be proactive regarding the unwarranted shootings by police and of police in recent times. Innocent citizens need to be protected and, equally important, our good officers do not deserve to have targets painted on their uniforms due to the actions of a few bad ones.
I look forward to meeting with you on (date of appointment).
I’ll keep you all posted on how the meetings go. Best of luck in your own communities!
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
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