Most of my life is an open book not only on social media but on my website and among my friends and acquaintances. I suspect that my “politics“ are well-known.

What is less well known is that for 25 years I was the prosecuting attorney for two municipalities in metropolitan Kansas City. I worked closely with scores of officers in those police departments. Those officers were dedicated, hard-working, fair minded, and held the interests of their communities paramount in the performance of their duties. Every day they put their lives on the line and embraced the commitment to “serve and protect”. They also enforced the law… not something popular with those who break the law.

Early in my legal career I also was a Public Defender. For years I also had a private criminal defense practice. There was disparity in the way that people of color were commonly approached by law enforcement. In the 1980s there was a well know euphemism in the County Prosecuting Attorneys office that “NNR“ was probable cause for a law enforcement stop. “NNR“ stood for Nxxxx North of the River. ”North of the River“ was the predominately white area of Metropolitan Kansas City Missouri. My parents never had to caution me about random law-enforcement contacts. Sadly, that is a common conversation in families of color. Happily, attitudes are changing. Attitudes need to change more and perhaps the tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, among too many others, are getting the notice and action that they deserve outside of minority communities.

Perfect? Hardly. Police, like each of us, are human beings. The code of silence hurts good officers and the rest of us.

Over the years I encountered a (very) few who were not suited to wear the badge. They were usually weeded out by the command staff.

What makes headline news is not the good police officers or the peaceful protesters. What makes headlines is the “bad cop” and the rioters/looters all of whom have an agenda that is separate and apart from any argument for public service or social/racial justice.

I am a believer in social justice, racial justice, and that “Black Lives Matter”. Those beliefs are not exclusive to the support of good police officers and good law enforcement. Indeed, I find the beliefs wholly consistent.

When somebody says “Blue Lives Matter”, I say yes they do. When somebody says “Black Lives Matter“ I am just as enthusiastic. What I do not agree with is the use of one of those statements as a reply or response to the other. Embrace one statement and/or the other but not one in reply to the other.

Peace Everyone. Pete

18 thoughts on “Justice, Black and Blue

  1. Agree. There are many very good cops, but too often they don’t speak up against bad ones because of “the code” or the unions protect the bad ones. When they do a better job policing each other we will have a better police force.

      • Hear, hear! I agree on the point about the police unions, but not on your own comment, Pete, about the possibility of making too much wind in your piece.

          • I have to say that I agree – there are many great cops who deserve respect, and do a fine job. I also agree that the Code of Silence (military, police, politics, fire dept and so on) needs to be broken. Only so the bad seeds can be weeded out.

          • Liz, the “code of silence“ is largely derived from a we vs. them mentality. While that may seem appropriate when applied to criminals it is not appropriate or consistent with the commitment to “Serve and Protect“.
            As always I appreciate your contributions!

    • I believe that news reporting is critically important, especially investigative journalism. What I find problematic is when opinion is presented as “news“. We see too much of this. One thing I enjoy about the BBC and NPR is they do their best to avoid blurring those distinctions. Thanks for reading. Pete

    • A product of changing network news of old into just another vehicle of entertainment to attract larger audiences. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite reporting on a cute puppy story during the evening news?

  2. Very good thoughts. Thanks for sharing them. They need to be said often, and listened to thoughtfully. We can do so much better than this. Thanks for this. I needed it today.

  3. Well said by all. I spent a significant part of my career fighting with unions over police discipline issues. It was tough to find a hearing officer who didn’t want to give them another chance. Thankfully most police officers are good people.

  4. Like you, Ken, Steve, and Greg l worked with Judges, Prosecutors, and Police the majority of which were Professional and dedicated to they’re role in the criminal justice system. But I saw systemic racism regularly. A young white women shoplifter gets a $25.00 fine and 30 mins. later a black women gets a $200.00 fine. A white burglar gets probation and a black one gets 2 years in prison.
    Trump blows his dog whistle daily, make America great again, to his followers to keep the status quo.
    Sue and I voted on Tuesday for Biden, I hope you all have a plan to vote early in person. I want this 2020 shithole to end by flushing the turd on November 3rd.

  5. Peter I usually agree completely with your posts – even the ones that give me pause. But I disagree – in a way – that “happily attitudes are changing” …. I think it is more to the point of – painfully, slowly with great struggle eyes are being opened and perhaps things will get better. The disparity between judgement and “punishment” when it comes to skin color seems very lopsided. Here I sit – in my very homogenized community/state and complain about the state of our nation, while Confederate flags fly proudly from the back of neighbors vehicles. What am I doing? I march, I put up signs – to no avail but my greatest “weapon” is my voice and my vote. I am always hopeful.

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