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Police Deserve A Fair Hearing

There's a lot of talk around these days about excesses, dangerous excesses, by American police forces. Maybe too much talk.

Do not misunderstand me: Anytime and every time there are anywhere near reasonable accusations of police excesses, particularly lawbreaking by police, there needs to be, there must be, thorough investigation.

But it needs to be done in an overall context that includes the following facts:

  • Overwhelmingly, police in this country do a good job. By far, most police do dangerous, often thankless, hard work well. They do it conscientiously, with integrity and within the law.
  • The overall quality of police work in this country is among the best in the world. And a case can be made that it is the best. Great Britain -- where police work generally is outstanding -- included.
  • Civilian control and review of police power -- how and how much police wield it -- is, of course, absolutely vital. Questions should be asked, and answered, continuously. But this must be done in a context of understanding -- understanding of how hard police work is, how dangerous it is, and how many split-second judgements have to be made by your average cop on the beat; and by police supervisors and superiors.
  • Such fast, life-at-stake decisions often are made by police in terrible circumstances. And while, yes, there are bad apples among police, it is also true that day-in and day-out they come face-to-face with awful, evil people and forces in the community.
Understanding and perspective are as important in this as the questions.