In an era of greater public scrutiny of police forces, more states, including Texas and Wisconsin, are turning to “Blue Lives Matter” Bills in order to, they say, protect policemen and women from hate crimes levied against them for their profession. While it is true that police officers have a dangerous job, it is not necessary to qualify crimes against them as hate crimes.
Police officers and their actions are already heavily protected by the law and if these legislators believed that blue lives mattered, they would work against the very forces that put officers in danger—poverty, blight, and poor training.
Opponents have pointed out that these laws strangely treat the policing profession as a trait similar to gender or race that needs protection under the law. Policing is not a trait; it is a job, a career that one can leave at any time. These laws are unnecessary and only serve to trump up charges against protesters and those who (rightly or wrongly) oppose police officers.
Further, in an article for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates asserts that anti-police violence would continue, lest we begin to make real progress in eliminating bias in policing. This claim is not a threat from Coates, but an observation of the societal issues that add to the dangers of policing.
President Obama made the point this week that “We ask too much of our police and not enough of ourselves.” He pointed out that officers often work in neglected communities and are expected to mediate when things go wrong—when government and community support and services could prevent many mental health, domestic, and violence issues that cops must answer for in these communities. Cops being ill prepared to answer for all of these issues fully are often called upon to respond in moments of danger and stress, when deeply rooted issues have come to a head.
Despite the felt need for an intervener, for, dare I say, police, the distrust still persists due to a long history of mistreatment of black people and disproportionate suffering in the criminal justice system. This distrust and the inherent bias makes interactions with police uncomfortable, and at times deadly, for people on all sides of the issue. Black people die. Police die.
These are the issues that frustrate communities for the long haul and make them increasingly dangerous for police officers to work in, not to mention dangerous for black people to live in.
If blue lives matter bills do nothing to improve police training, making new officers aware of bias and alternative strategies to keep the peace other than force, then blue lives will not matter. If blue lives do nothing to strengthen communities and solve issues without violent policing, then blue lives will not matter. The danger and distrust will continue and people will keep dying on all sides.
If the blue lives matter bills only serve as a legal and social assault on black lives matter activists and rhetoric, then they are not concerned with the lives of policemen and women at all. These bills are only a political farce adding trumped up charges in the name of an already protected population, increasing mass incarceration and perpetuating the status quo.
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