Another police union goes ballistic against anti-racism protests

Pittsburgh’s police union is outraged because their chief posed with a protester’s anti-racism sign (see photo). Union president Howard McQuillan told the media, “The chief is calling us racists. He believes the Pittsburgh Police Department is racist. This has angered a lot of officers.”

Well no, I don’t think that’s what the chief was doing, although I guess it could be open to interpretation. To which I would respond, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” In other words, Pittsburgh residents know whether their police force has a racism problem, and if not, then McQuillan has nothing to worry about and shouldn’t get so prickly. And if it does, he’s making it worse.

Anyhow, this Daily Kos writer’s take on how several big-city police unions have responded to the protests against police violence is the most articulate exposition of the issue I’ve seen so far:

“Unions—police unions included—absolutely should push for due process for their members accused of wrongdoing. But police unions seem to be going past that, to an insistence that members shouldn’t need due process because they shouldn’t face any consequences for wrongdoing to begin with. Not even consequences like criticism, not even when they kill unarmed civilians. That police, in fact, can do no wrong and that to suggest that they ever do is an outrage against justice and the rule of law. As if the uniform makes the human being infallible even in a broken system. Which, no.”

That’s certainly the mentality being projected by aggressive police unions and cops disrespectful to civilian authority. There’s no shortage of news stories and videos about police bullying citizens, so it’s not just a few bad apples. We’ve got a systemic problem, and it includes a racial component. Like global warming, the facts about how many cops treat citizens in general and minorities in particular are undeniable, and claiming it doesn’t exist doesn’t change the fact of its existence.

Some citizens have taken to the streets to demand change. The cop unions seem to want a free license to physically attack these protesters. Of course, no mayor or police chief in his right mind would give them that. So the cop unions and their members respond with gestures and actions that say, “We don’t respect civilian authority.” Which also implies they won’t obey civilian authority.

It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the police. Ultimately, the people hurt most by this behavior ispitt_police_chief_twitter themselves. But their biggest mistake of all is harboring the delusion that somehow they’re upholding the honor of the police profession and honoring the memory of all the brave police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. They’re not.

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