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Hours after coming out of the police academy, I was told something as a new rookie officer: You’d rather be tried by 12 jurors than carried by six pallbearers. In my impressionable first days, I saw officers leave the precinct every day touching the lockers of their fallen brothers. They started their shift on the defensive, thinking about protecting themselves, as opposed to the communities they served, regardless of the complexion of those communities. —Eric L. Adams, We Must Stop Abuse of Black Men (emphasis mine)

Cops can get into a state of mind where they’re scared to death. When they’re in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven’t had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren’t overtly racist. They weren’t consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear.Constance Rice, Civil Rights Attorney On How She Built Trust With Police (emphasis mine)

Two Great pieces, one a NY Times Op-Ed by Eric L. Adams, current Brooklyn Borough president and a former NYC police officer, and the other by Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney.

Both of these pieces reflect on something I have thought for years, which is that police officers often start their days on the defensive, thinking they are an oppressed minority in a “dangerous job”. It is this way of thinking that leads to what we have seen so often over these last few months, but what must have been going on every day before the advent of cell phone video cameras.

There needs to be a change in the way that police think. A change in the “culture” of policing. Yes, it is a dangerous profession, but taking on a dangerous profession doesn’t give anyone the right to behave or act in a manner that, instead of focusing on protecting a community and the individuals in it, takes an active role in putting others at risk, in order to proactively protect oneself.