I just opened today’s Seattle Times (December 28, 2013) to one of the scariest front-page headlines that I have read in a long time: “City had 29 homicides this year, 6 by police.” That is, the men and women hired and trained and paid by the public to serve and protect that public is responsible for 20% of the “murders” of that public.
It is followed by this “reassuring” secondary headline: “The number killed by police in Seattle in 2103 is unusually high. The interim police chief attributes it to the lack of help for those with mental-health problems.”
To illustrate my continued neotenic-like naïvete, I first read the second sentence to mean that the new chief was acknowledging the fact that members of the Seattle Police Department had mental and emotional issues that were not being properly addressed. Hence their need to reach to their holster during confrontations with unarmed civilians.
Alas, the second sentence merely means that chief is not acknowledging the possible source of the problem—the SPD and its hiring, training, and disciplining (or lack thereof—but is blaming the victims . . . I should use an exclamation mark here to express shock but, like, who’s shocked by the attitude?
And please please me by not reading anti-cop attitude into the above: I have known many fine men and women who are in law enforcement but that does not change the headlines nor the need to address the often staggering stress that they and their fellow officers face.
I have also known several counselors who specialize in PTSD and related issues for local police and our officers often need and deserve more and better attention than is made available to them. Like our military personnel. Of course, I ain’t gonna hold my breath waiting for that issue to be properly addressed . . .