Don’t judge all police officers by a few bad apples

Posted 1 June 2020 at 10:20 am


I feel compelled to comment on recent events occurring in cities across America in the response to the death of George Floyd while in the custody of a Minneapolis Police Officer.

Let me begin by stating emphatically that I do not condone the actions of Officer Derek Chauvin. I do however wonder what precipitated Floyd’s encounter with Officer Chauvin, but I’m fairly certain that if Floyd hadn’t committed a crime (allegedly), then his interaction with the police would not have occurred.

Chauvin’s employment has already been terminated and he will face adjudication in a court of law. Unfortunately that will not satisfy the “eye for an eye” mentality.

Secondly, I learned early in my own law enforcement career that when one of us screws up, we all catch the blame. Cops are always painted with a broad brush. “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.”

As for the so-called protests nationwide in response to Mr. Floyd’s death, here’s my take: If during your peaceful protest you graduate to criminal behavior, you are no longer a protester, you are a criminal. And the media should stop referring to you as a “protester”!  Arson/Rioting/Looting are crimes!

The overwhelming number of black individuals murdered in this country died at the hands of other black individuals, not the police. If you want to protest something, protest that!

During her speech on Saturday night, the Mayor of Rochester began naming black individuals historically who died while in the custody of the police. That serves no purpose other than to fan the flames of violence.

The first recorded law enforcement death in our country occurred in 1786. Since that time over 22,000 individuals have lost their lives in the line of duty. How many of those deaths were at the hands of an individual who was black? Perhaps we should research that? We won’t of course because that really wouldn’t serve any legitimate purpose.

When a cop loses his/her life, we mourn. We don’t protest and we don’t respond by engaging in criminal behavior. Why? Because such behavior of course would dishonor the memory of the deceased.

Steve Smith


(Smith is retired as undersheriff of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.)