There have been some police shooting across the nation of unarmed Black men, law enforcement abusing the powers that have brought into question the need for critical dialogue for oversight and policy and procedure review. As law enforcement professionals, we all know it’s no coincidence that these incidences of questionable police shootings, violation of citizen’s rights only happen to people of color or in economically disadvantaged communities. To show how far we have come from the basic tenets of our Black Law Enforcement elders I have added quotes from the Afro-American Patrolman’s League mission statement.
The Afro-American Patrolmen’s League, now known as the African-American Police League, was established in 1968 after Chicago police officer Edward “Buzz” Palmer witnessed the effects of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s “shoot to kill” order brought on by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and the increase of black uprisings that followed his death. Safety of black leaders and citizens from white reactionaries quickly became a pressing issue. Palmer put together a small group of people, consisting of Renault “Reggie” Robinson, Curtis Cowsen, Willie Ware, Wilbur Crooks, Jack Dubonnet, Tom Mitchell, and himself, to become the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League; the group, with the exception of Mitchell, was made up of police officers and was committed to defending and protecting the people in their local black communities.
When Black people and Black police officers are killed, usually by a white officer, we stay silent while they blame the victim. When our children are abused, tasered and criminalized by a system, we fail to connect the dots or draw parallels to ourselves or our families. We have failed as Black Law Enforcement to develop strategies to confront the genocide in our communities while allowing outsiders to repeat failed programs that have never changed the condition of our communities.
When Black officers rights are abused. Others Black officers support in silence while others don’t associate themselves with the officer or the incident. We become co-conspirators of institutional racism in our own departments against our own people. We have become covert cowards. We nodded and winked at institutional policies, practices, and patterns of behavior that disproportionately inflicted misery in our birth communities. It became impossible for us to tell the truth in our homes after lying all day on our jobs.
What is most disturbing to the Black community is seeing Black Police Officers joining in the buffoonery and side-show of PBA President Pat Lynch and other police leaders that joined in on the “Back Turning”. When Mr. Lynch decided that the Mayor didn’t support officers of the NYPD, the Mayor was being honest of his concerns of his own Black son having encounters with police
So the question to black law enforcement; ‘Do our communities especially; the black community see the black law enforcement officer as protector, overseer or coward?’ As Men and Women of African descent in the position of power of law enforcement, we have the authority to save a life or take a life. It is our duty to return to the community to reach and teach the young. If we do not respect our own, why would you think that law enforcement professionals of other ethnic backgrounds should or would recognize them?
If we, as law enforcement professionals, are sworn to protect and serve the community, how come so many people of color do not see it this way? To our own young we are seen as enemies of the community. Why are we so disconnected from the community? Not every black person commits a crime, not every black person wants lawlessness. So why is there such a hate for the black law enforcement officer?
“We will no longer permit ourselves to be relegated to the role of brutal pawns in a chess game affecting the communities in which we serve. We are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and members of the black community. Donning the blue uniform has not changed this. On the contrary, it has sharpened our perception of our responsibilities as black men and women in a society seemingly unresponsive to the needs of black people. We see our role as a protector of this community, and that is the role we intend to fill.”
Afro-American Patrolman’s League
If you ask many people in our community, the issue is responsibility. They see black law enforcement stand by their white comrade in wrong rather than stand with the black community when their rights have been violated. When the community rallies against police brutality many foolish officers of color say that the community is attack “US” this attitude is no different that the slave and the master mentality.
As America becomes more of a military state, law enforcement careers are more appealing in most communities. However, the number of black recruits is dramatically declining, whereas, the number of black males with criminal records before the age of 18 is on the incline. Additionally, many African-Americans, male or female, that are eligible for law enforcement jobs do not look to law enforcement careers because of the overwhelming resentment and distrust towards the police that exists within the Black community. Where will we find young black men and women to fill the ranks after our senior black officer’s retire? If this pattern is allowed to continue, within the next 20 years there will be almost no black law enforcement professional patrolling the communities within the United States of America.
There are approximately 70,000 black law enforcement officers in the United States, and we have collectively forgotten our purpose, it is not just a paycheck it’s a responsibility. It’s not enough to reap the benefits of the job and move out of the hood. We should remain in the hood and be a constant presence of righteousness and prime examples of Black men and women taking responsibility to build our community. We do not join black law enforcement organizations in fear of what our white counterparts say so in essence we have lost the spirit and power are ancestors had when confronted with the same issues we face today in our departments. – when in fact, we have little or no organizational memory or allegiance.
“We are going to elevate the black policeman in black community to the same image-status enjoyed by white policeman in the white community.”
Afro-American Patrolman’s League
As Black Law Enforcement Professionals we know firsthand, that the legal system is against the poor of all races. Of course, there are many in this Justice System that believe in the core tenants of Justice. At the end of the day, the rank and file of our Justice System are victims as well because of fear of losing a paycheck, a promotion or so-called respect of their comrades; they play along with this dismal downfall of trust in this system we call Justice.
Instead, we boast about our positions in public. However, we take a stance of silence at work and fail to challenge the status quo. Some feel that they are separate when they are promoted – that they have arrived. They don’t need any association with the collective body. Have we become the privileged employed? Are we the hirelings that allowed the sheep to be scattered and devoured? We have no need to identify our enemies – for we were co-joined at the hip
This is not true brother/sister law enforcement professionals. Make no mistake they fear the ones with unity. They will not admit it to you, but they fear organized thought that creates movement and motion. It has been the fear of this country organized black people in action. We are organized to harm no one, only those that are opposed to true Freedom, Justice, and Equality of ALL people.
“Moreover, it should be stated here, that many black police are against the system and have been for many years. However, they know if they would have spoken out against it, they would be subjected to unbearable pressure and even might suffer loss of their job. Black police are at a disadvantage in numbers and political backing; therefore, they are afraid to challenge the police structure.”
Afro-American Patrolman’s League
Organized black law enforcement represents black law Enforcement power, and organized Black Law Enforcement represent a real political and economic threat to the power structure. Many are scared to organize. They are scared to labeled black by their white comrades and all along their white comrades are always proud of their Italian, Irish, Anglo-Saxon heritage.
To address these problems, it takes real leadership! Now, will the real Black law enforcement leaders please stand up! It won’t take place from behind a desk, or on your post. No longer can the responsible be irresponsible, especially towards our children in the Black community throughout the United States. The Black community fought hard so you can take that test, it was a struggle. Blacks being in law enforcement didn’t just happen. Now its your turn to fight for your community your career is in debt to the black struggle.
Black Law Enforcement Professionals organizations are the key to saving the black community. We are the best educated and trained black men and women in the world, equipped to deal with the social and economic ills of our community.
The ideals of Black Law Enforcement Pioneers no longer exist. We have embraced personalities rather than principles. The silence that reverberates throughout Black Law Enforcement when critical issues are raised is a testament to having lost our way.