Sheriffs’ Association should address issue with racism, excessive violence

Posted 26 July 2020 at 1:08 pm


I read here about the State Sheriffs’ Association’s proposal to add laws and increase some penalties to protect law enforcement officers. Better defined and additional laws to protect police and address new situations is a good idea. Each department has a year to reevaluate itself and what it needs to do to improve unneeded violence. Feeling safe is a consideration.

My entire career I have always thought it wrong-headed that a “push off and run” situation by a defendant could be charged exactly the same as a “in your face fist fight” situation. And now we have electronic ways to harass police. With immunity gone or modified, improving this mess is reasonable.

Unfortunately the Association so far ducked the bigger issue of ensuring better, safer communities, not torn apart by racism and bigotry and excessive violence by anyone.

The impression was that police do not need any extra training or money for “de-escalation” training and implementation. That is facially wrong. For example, “Tactical disengagement” with a mentally ill person needs a mental health specialist on call. The suggestions forgot to include help with things like that.

One Association suggestion runs counter to both the Madison Method and the 1968 “The Kerner Commission” report.  The Association seems to want to be able to arrest anyone who stands to close to wherever the police go. If there is time there is also a Berlin method to help.

The bipartisan 1968 Kerner Commission found – just as we have again seen now – that aggressive police action, including setting perimeters, cornering people, using tear gas, first use of clubs… all trigger violent reactions even among bystanders.

We are seeing that reaction in Portland where the Mayor’s “Wall of Moms” and bystanders are all getting gassed and mauled first. Violence has predictably increased.  (The video of the Buffalo City police crowd control shows military tactics. The ad about Portland uses footage from the Ukrainian revolution. )

Let’s hope the Association is not caught up in the current push to resurrect Nixon’s old tactics which used code words to divide people and created bad situations by indiscriminately throwing police weight about. Hopefully wanted to get a list of concerns out there quickly for the local agencies and the Legislature to consider.

If the Association is being straight with us this is only a start. Let’s see how the Association follows up to help on what the plans are required to address.

Conrad F. Cropsey