Let’s Stop Profiling The Police

So here’s a video that’s gone viral – recorded by a  – and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume the gentleman is – a black man who, as he was walking down the street with his hands in his pockets, was stopped by a police officer and questioned as to his actions and purpose for being there. The officer was responding to a 911 call from a store owner who had been robbed several times before, saw the man walk by several times, and wanted to make sure that wasn’t about to happen again.

The man is clearly annoyed with the conversation. The deputy is obviously attempting to be non-confrontational. And in this new world of ours, it comes down to a battle of the pocket cams.

We the people, elect and support a government system that includes a team of trained professionals who are expected to enforce the law, protect its citizens, and prevent crime. All of that training comes from years of collective experience, mountains of research, and never-ending expert collaboration. Our on-the-street officials are as ready as they can be for every possible scenario they can encounter – regardless of personal distraction, public opinion,  and danger to self. Some say they ‘choose’ the job and therefore accept the inherent dangers of their duty. Knowing police officers as I do, it is more a matter of calling than choice; we all are drawn to our strengths.

And yet these people, on whom we depend for our very safe and secure way of life – take a minute to imagine life without them – are consistently and constantly criticized, condemned, and confronted as they do their best to provide a service that very few of us truly understand.

The police, and their governing bodies, put into place a division of investigative officers whose responsibility it is to police the police. It is the mandate of the local special investigations unit to ensure that our officers are acting within the designated parameters of their training. The  pressure of the perpetual scrutiny they endure from their peers, their supervisors, their overseers, and an increasingly informed – more often than not, out of context – public, must be, at times, overwhelming.

I don’t know a living soul who goes to work one day, facing the annual performance review, without any nerves or misgivings. Most of us simply have to meet the boss in his or her office and have a conversation. Some of us have to go through the dreaded ‘self-evaluation’ process. But all of us suffer at least a small degree of anxiety over someone else’s opinion of our actions, especially when that person wields such power over our own futures.

Few of us have to actually perform for our supervisors beyond the intial training stages: teachers and doctors and the like.

But the actions of our police officers are now examined under the most powerful microscope available. They are placed at the mercy of the camera lens and answerable to an entire world of armchair critics.

Imagine trying to do your job, whatever it is, with several cameras on you every minute, knowing that anyone and everyone will analyze every word you utter, every move you take, every decision you make, specifically looking for fault and error.

Celebrities and athletes know this pressure. We see it all the time. And they screw up regularly.

Now imagine trying to get everything perfect – for the world to see, cameras rolling, people screaming, time racing, panic running rampant, innocent bystanders, your baby’s first birthday coming up this Saturday – all with a gun pointed at you.

Yeah, every profession has its bad apples. And every profession self regulates against them. But most of the people doing the job they’re doing actually care about their work. They do their best. And when you’re talking about the ones who put their lives on the line for the rest of us, how fair is it for us to get all pissed off when they err on the side of caution?

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How To Put An End To Abortions

Dear Right-to-Lifers:

You’re doing it wrong. You want to put an end to abortions? Here’s how.

Start taking all the time, money, and effort you put into your demonstrations, your advertising, your support network, and, (deep breath) your graphic posters, and redirecting your focus to where it can actually do some good.

Stop attacking women who find themselves in the position of making one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. Stop judging strangers about whose circumstances you know absolutely nothing. Stop assuming that terminating any pregnancy is a simple choice.

Instead, work to make a difference. Instead of fighting for a child’s right to life – fight for their right to live. Work to take away every woman’s fears of seeing her pregnancy to term.

Fight against poverty for women and children. Fight for every woman’s right to free and accessible birth control. Fight for every woman’s right to easily accessible and reliable medical care.

Fight for the rights of the disabled. Fight for an end to the ‘R’ word. Fight for the rights of inclusion so that every child is a welcome member of society.

Fight for the support that so many uneducated, unprepared, incapable mothers will need, for 20 years or more, to raise their children.

Fight for the need to adopt from within Canada. Fight for a stronger foster care system. Fight for the rights of parents to provide for their children.

Fight for full accessibility to higher education. Fight for women’s right to equal pay, and better jobs. Fight for the rights of women to keep their jobs, to get better benefits and maternity leaves, and to find convenient and safe day care.

Fight for the rights of women to have a child, regardless of their situation, age, or ability, without the judgement of others.

Fight for stable families. Fight for a woman’s right to full and reliable child support.

Fight for the safety of women, so that they are never subjected to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Fight for her right to wear what she wants.

Fight for her right to say no.

Fight for the right of every woman to control her own mind, heart, body, and soul.

STOP fighting the tragic end result.

You’re too late.

What About My Kids’ Right-to-Life?

My mother was assaulted tonight. Someone snuck into her apartment and she’s called me in a panic. She is so upset – and her first worry is my kids and whether or not this could happen to them. It’s taken me a half hour now to calm her down and understand fully what’s happened to her.

The worst part about this whole ordeal is, THEY’RE STILL THERE IN HER LIVING ROOM!!

Okay, so let’s take a minute to gather our thoughts…

If, in fact, someone had physically been lying in wait for Nana as she entered her home, alone, after a long and tiring day, and proceeded to act in a way that both frightened and upset her, I would be able to call the police, get help, and try to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

But I can’t. Because, as far as I know, there is nothing illegal about this assault.

Mom grabbed her mail on her way in. She kicked off her shoes, settled herself, and checked through the envelopes, which included a sealed, plain white envelope on which was printed a single quote with a red arrow:

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
— Abraham Lincoln

As there is an election coming up, Mom figured it had something to do with that, and opened it. Inside was postcard, and, before she could fully understand what she was looking at, she had already committed to memory the gruesome photo of a butchered baby in a trash can. She threw it on the table, only to face a second photo on the reverse. She called me to warn me not to open my mail with the kids around. And to, once again, live through all the reasons this is so upsetting to her, still, after all these years, haunted by two traumatically difficult miscarriages before she was finally able to deliver me.

Now, I don’t give a rat’s ass what your stance is on the abortion issue. That’s not what I’m writing about today.

What I am fed up with, is the sheer audacity that the right-to-life movement has in taking up these horrendous scare tactics to attack my family. Whether they’re hanging banners over the railings of bridges as I drive by, or gathering outside of high schools where my children – and they are still children – have no choice but to attend, and now, invading the personal security of our own homes, they have no right to assault me or my children in this fashion.

To see such graphic photos in any media, there are warnings as to the disturbing nature to follow. I can choose to change the channel, log off, or turn the page. My kids don’t have that option at school – if you want to get your message to my children, there are proper procedures for that: contact the school board, gain approval, schedule a presentation, and give me the option to protect my child from your extremist views. If you would like to advertise anything on public property, there is a municipal sign permit process for such things. And if Canada Post doesn’t start insisting on clear and accurate return information on every piece of mail they deliver, we should be looking at changes there.

As far as I’m concerned, any group can defend whomever they please. But I must defend my children, my family, against displays and demonstrations that are unfit for their eyes. We should all have the right to free speech – something that is not as free in Canada as it is in the U.S., by the way. But with that right comes responsibility. When your right to free speech impinges on my right to safety and security, and my right to raise my children as I choose, to introduce them to life as I deem appropriate, my children’s rights must win out.

Take your stand. Spread your word. But get out of my face. Stay away from my family. And get the hell out of my house.