I saw someone saying they didn’t understand how people can get so frustrated with the police when one officer does things that are wrong (like killing people), but people don’t get as riled up about it when somebody else (in his example, a Muslim) does the same thing. This is a serious problem, because everyone should understand the difference.
Police are employees of our government charged with law enforcement. It is literally their job to go around and make sure people are doing the right thing, and to catch and punish the people who are not. One of the things that we hold very dear in America is the belief that “All men are created equal”, at least before the law. Every time some rich man gets off with a crime that would land anyone else in prison for life (or have them executed, with or without trial), it should affront our American sensibilities.
So when police officers let other officers get away with murder, it’s not just “a few bad apples”. It is literally their job to enforce some level of justice in this country – at least, it’s supposed to be that way. I know that law enforcement sometimes requires a little mercy and discretion, and it’s not an easy job. That’s not the point today. When an officer lets another officer get away with a crime, he’s even more complicit than a random bystander because it’s the officer’s job to enforce the law. We realize it is his friend that we’re asking him to take down, but it is his job to do it.
When a police officer covers up for his buddy, he is abusing his position in law enforcement to cover up a crime. It’s different from other kinds of people, because the officer is literally sworn to protect and serve. By failing to hold other officers accountable, even if it’s just moving them to a desk job where they aren’t interacting with people they could be shooting, they are betraying the badge and the trust of the public. When you stick with your own like that instead of enforcing the public good, you’re not law enforcement anymore; you’re the mob.
Other groups, like religions, don’t bear that moral burden. They aren’t sworn in and don’t have a paid position to protect and serve. Not understanding that is how we got to where we are today.
There are some few people calling for independent review boards. I don’t know how much good that would do, but I haven’t got a better idea so it gets a tepid endorsement from me today. Letting the police police themselves the way they are now isn’t working, and I’m not sure it can work (they really do have to depend on each other). It’s not just the issues with the killing of unarmed people, but the sex trafficking and all manner of other terrible things that they get away with because there is nobody left to catch them (it used to be journalists who held them accountable). The police must be people who can be trusted to do “the right thing”, because that’s the nature of their job.