I echo what Tim said in his post about the massacre in Dallas last night. But I wanted to go a bit further.
As Dallas Police Department Major Max Geron said when he came to Cato last year for our policing conference, some of his colleagues thought the Cato Institute was an “anti-police organization.” This is not at all true, and I want to take this opportunity to explain that.
The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project is dedicated to tracking police misconduct in its myriad forms throughout the country. Police misconduct happens more often than many people realize and we believe it is a public service to show what we know about how it manifests itself, how it is handled by the departments that experience it, and how that misconduct is treated in the greater criminal justice system. It is not a website dedicated to proving police officers are bad or evil writ large.
Beyond my professional interest, this distinction is personal to me because my father was a decorated police officer. He retired after 20 years as a detective lieutenant in the Fort Wayne, Indiana Police Department. He unsuccessfully ran for sheriff in 1980 and returned at least twice in retirement to work as a desk sergeant for the FWPD. He was proud of his time on the Force, and I am proud of him.
Although my father passed before I came into my position as managing editor of PoliceMisconduct.net, he knew I was researching the topic and was supportive of my work. He knew that, as in any job, there are people who are not good at what they do. And he also knew that some departments are better than others.
But none of this can excuse, nor should it be used to excuse, what happened in Dallas last night. It was an atrocity that should not be allied with activists and critics who have been overwhelmingly peaceful and respectful in their demonstrations and grievances.
Moreover, Dallas PD, by all accounts, is one of the most (small-p) progressive police organizations in the country. Before the massacre began, DPD was using social media to show the cooperation and mutual respect between the demonstrators and the officers there to protect them.
This is how policing should work.
I see a lot of vitriolic comments and blanket condemnations about police officers on our social media feeds. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and, in the spirit of free speech, we do not use a heavy hand in censoring the content of those individuals. But they do not reflect NPMRP’s mission nor the opinions of our contributors.
Our hearts go out to the DPD and our gratitude to all officers who fulfill their roles admirably and honestly across the country. We have our differences on many issues of policy and practice, but at the end of the day, reformers and police alike want a safer and better society for everyone.
Our condolences to the families who lost loved ones last night.