Do we really want no response to the next break-in?

On a weeknight in the late 1980’s, I returned home from a friend’s house to find my home had been burglarized. Judging by the blowing curtains, it looked like I had missed a conversation with the intruder by about 10 seconds.

I have no idea what I would have done had I quietly gotten to the back door 10 seconds earlier. A physical confrontation, an animated conversation or a chase down the street would not be among my wishes. Police do that.

Or do they?

The Minneapolis city council thinks they are no longer needed.

An entire section of Seattle has been cordoned off from police and the mayor’s reaction was, “This could be a summer of love.”

In many other cities, there are calls to defund police, significantly or completely, switch their duties to someone else, or drastically change police procedures.

The president of Minneapolis City Council says that perhaps a social worker in the future will respond to a domestic disturbance. I have a daughter in the social work field in Boston. She does it very well. She fixes the mental puzzle that creates such a situation. But she is in no way trained to intervene in a potentially violent situation.

I have had maybe two dozen interactions with police, some conversational and casual, some seeking help in a legal matter and a few because my foot inadvertently made me go 70 miles an hour in a 55 mph zone. In the burglary incident, they came to the house, took my information, gathered evidence and a week later charged someone with a string of burglaries in the lower Vallamont section of Williamsport.

All of my interactions have been positive.

There is a chorus of people, including most of the media, who would suggest at least some of the interactions would have gone differently if I were black. Apart from sickening images we have seen in recent weeks, statistics on police interactions don’t indicate systemic racism. There has been, however, enough anecdotal recounting of incidents to suggest a problem that needs to be addressed.

But thousands of people die every year from opioid abuse triggered by prescriptions that never should have been written by doctors and dispensed by pharmacists.

Thousands of children are poorly educated because they have teachers not dedicated to their jobs, disadvantaging them for a lifetime.

There is no groundswell to get rid of all doctors, pharmacists and teachers based on these realities. That’s because we know an overwhelming percentage of them do great things that help the entire cross-section of our society every day.

Unlike most of the agenda-driven media, we can think two things at once. We can respect the work police do while acknowledging there are enough problems with a racial element attached that something needs to be done to restore trust in communities.

You can admire the work of police while insisting they all have body cams so every interaction is there for everyone to review, that there is better and broader training of them, that internal investigative arms of police departments are beefed up, that there is an increased ability to dismiss bad cops more quickly and easily.

How do you feel about a six-block area of Williamsport being cordoned off as an “autonomous zone?”

If a fight breaks out in a bar, do you think we would all be better off settling things ourselves rather than calling police to break it up?

There is a reason we have police, and it is not to systematically carry the torch of white privilege. Most of what they do is there for all to see on shows like “Cops” and “Live PD.”

Oops. I forgot. The agenda-benders got those highly rated shows canceled. We can’t be showing police doing good things. It would mess with the narrative needed to achieve their abolition.

Changes need to be made to eliminate elements of unequal execution of justice. As for what those changes should be, President Trump’s executive order this week was a start. I would lean heavily on the package put together by Sen. Tim Scott, a fair-minded black Republican senator who has the personal experience and credibility desperately needed on this issue right now.

We certainly don’t need some Hollywood type living in a gated community with personal security telling us we don’t need police to respond when someone with bad intentions is trying to break into our home.

Frankly, who wants to be the policeman answering the call, given the group think that assumes every millisecond misstep among millions of interactions is based on race.

When dispensing law and order becomes a public crucible of judgement that can wash away years of honorable service in an instant, who will want the job?

The role of government is to protect people and property? We can do it better. But the answer isn’t to not do it at all.

David F. Troisi is retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)