Chief of slain Texas cop blames free speech

As you know, a Texas sheriff’s deputy was murdered Friday night by a gunman who opened fire without warning — a scenario that’s becoming an all-too-common experience for America’s ordinary law-abiding citizens, too, because it’s easy for crazy people to get guns in this country, and then act out their madness against strangers.  Today, CNN reports,

“Authorities appeared to link Goforth’s killing to the anti-police tensions that have spread nationwide over the deaths of unarmed African-American men at the hands of white officers. [Sheriff Ron] Hickman and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson addressed the nationwide debate over the relationship between police officers and the public. The sheriff referred to it as ‘dangerous national rhetoric.’ ‘There are a few bad apples in every profession,’ Anderson said. ‘That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement.’ Hickman warned that the tension against officers is getting out of hand. ‘When the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control,’ Hickman said.”

No! America is facing a policing crisis, and it won’t be solved by shutting down the First Amendment rights of citizens complaining about police abuses and misconduct. It is the police, not citizens, who have created an “us-against-them” environment. The public wants to support their police; but we, the people, also want police who deserve our support.

There are plenty of good, hardworking cops out there doing their job properly. The criticisms aren’t directed at them, and everyone in the law enforcement community knows that.

The problems in American policing go beyond “a few bad apples.” They’re systemic, and partly due to racism, although that’s far from the whole story. A big part of what’s wrong with America’s police is that misconduct is swept under the rug by those responsible for preventing and correcting it. Rogue cops aren’t disciplined or fired; they’re protected. Based on incomplete data — the absence of reporting of police shootings itself is a problem — cops kill innocent citizens far more often than criminals kill cops. About 100 police officers die in the line of duty every year; studies have suggested that over 1,000 civilians are killed by police annually.

Things need to change in this country. The legitimacy of law enforcement is on the line, and that’s the fault of the police, not of the citizens calling for reforms. Attacking the right of citizens to petition their government for redress of their grievances against out-of-control police is exactly the wrong thing to do. It will further divide citizens and police, intensify tensions between communities and police agencies, and worst of all, it will get in the way of community-police dialogue and implementing necessary reforms. Law enforcers need to get off their defensive posture, start listening to the communities they serve, and implement the needed changes.

5585f104f11a6.imageThe only person who wanted this to happen was the criminal who pulled the trigger. If the criminal justice system does its job, the perpetrator will get his just desserts under the law in due course. The hurt, anger, and frustration in the law enforcement community over losing an officer this way is understandable. Millions of Americans share the slain officer’s family’s and colleagues’ grief. But taking out that frustration on citizens asking for police reforms our country badly needs is silly, stupid, and counterproductive.

Photo: We all sympathize with Sheriff Ron Hickman, the slain deputy’s family, his colleagues, and their community; but don’t blame the deputy’s murder on those trying to stop police brutality against minorities.

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