Tuesday, October 3, 2017

‘Politicking’ police officers? Or just self-expression in an era of confusion?

The Chicago Police Department claims its policy is that patrol officers aren’t supposed to make political statements or take such actions while in uniform – which theoretically prevents them from taking on viewpoints that could be misconstrued as the official stance of the city.

First came the "support"

Which is why three officers in two separate incidents are now facing discipline – reprimands and, for one officer, a reassignment to new duties – because of pictures of themselves showing them engaging in actions that express controversial stances.

OF COURSE, THESE officers manage to cancel each other’s views out, since all were getting involved in the ongoing debate over the appropriateness of professional athletes to use National Anthem rituals at the stadium to express their own views on social issues.

In one case, two officers appeared in a photograph on Instagram with clenched fists and down on a knee, along with an activist who was expressing the view that the athletes were taking a just cause – in support of those who are concerned about police abuse of people based on race.

The Chicago Sun-Times managed to dredge up that photograph, and wound up making it a full-color, front-page cover for the newspaper last week.
Then, came the opposition

Which got the police department upset to the point where they said the two officers would face official reprimands – the kind of thing that gets written up and put in their personnel files. Which means the incident could come up again and be used against the officers under certain circumstances.

ALTHOUGH ODDLY ENOUGH, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was not upset about the image of uniformed police officers, both of whom are black, showing support for the activists on this issue. The mayor went so far as to say he hopes the idea of police officers supporting the cause means something is shifting in Chicago’s mindset, something for the better.
EMANUEL: First officers a 'plus' for Chicago image?

But if that was the hope, another incident came forth when officials learned of another officer who had posted a picture of himself where his intent was to show opposition to these types of activists – and support for the efforts of President Donald J. Trump whose rancid rhetoric on this issue is what has triggered the whole debate to begin with.

That photograph shows the uniformed officer waving a U.S. flag while standing in front of his police-marked SUV, with a sign in front of him reading, “I stand for the anthem. I love the American flag. I support my president and the 2nd Amendment.”

Which, by the way, is the one often interpreted by social conservatives as giving them the right to carry whatever types of firearms they desire.

ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTED that the officer in question, who is white, worked the past four years assigned to a high school, and also found students at that school who said the officer in question was a positive presence around the campus who often had helped avert trouble from occurring.

Which could mean he’s a good guy. Or maybe just that he’s in an environment where the masses are inclined to believe the protesters are the trouble-makers.

In short, where one comes down on these issues is going to depend on where one stands on many other social issues, particularly that of how concerned they are about the potential for police abuse of other individuals based on race.

I’m sure the Chicago Police Department would prefer it if none of this were to come up in public discussion. They’d rather not have an issue to deal with at all.

THE DEPARTMENT’S INTERNAL Affairs division is reviewing all the incidents, although there is a sense that the latter officer will get disciplined because of the need to create a perception that they’re not overly-harsh on the former officers.

TRUMP: All started with his trash talk
Which I’m sure there are others who will toss out the “politically correct” rant and claim that the latter officer is unfairly being tarred and feathered. Because they want to agree with him – no matter how much his stance (which was more reactionary and meant to hurt others) offends a segment of our society.

Much of the problem lies within the idea of a policy that our police are neutral. The reality is that it is near-impossible to stay out of issues – often, doing nothing winds up being an expression of content with the status quo.

And in a case where the status quo is questionable, perhaps the only just thing is to merely admit where you stand on the issue. Which is what these three officers managed to do; regardless of how some of us would rather not hear anything about it at all.


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