It’s time to erase the Thin Blue Line. (part 3 of 3)

In his book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath, he recounts the story of carpet manufacturer Ray Anderson who demanded his staff act as if they were 100% responsible for any environmental issues they caused as a company. He goes on to say, what if a married couple both told the story of their relationship problems as if they were solely responsible? What if teachers told the story of high school dropouts as if the teachers were 100% responsible for every student that dropped out? What difference could be made if people accepted full and complete responsibility for problems they’re maybe only partially responsible for? What if, instead of feeling trapped in an unwinnable situation we were forced to explain the situation as if we were the ones fully responsible? Could we go from feeling like victims of the problem to feeling like co-owners of the solution? What if police officers accepted full responsibility for the killings of unarmed citizens, and what if they worked together to develop a plan to bring an end to it without assigning any blame to anybody else? 100% their fault. And, what if the black community accepted full 100% responsibility for the deaths of the members of their community at the hands of the police, and they had discussions to find ways to stop these deaths that had nothing to do with the police changing, but they themselves changing. What if society said, “Hey, all these deaths at the hands of police officers is entirely our fault. What can we do to fix it?” And, what if all of them did this independently? How many good things could happen? What if all three parties said, I choose to fix this problem, not because it’s someone else’s fault, but because it’s my fault, I can fix it, and it’s worth fixing? Imagine the possibilities if all three parties could look at the root cause of the problems and implement strategies and procedures to fix these upstream causations with downstream correlations.

Let’s start with what the police could do in looking upstream for solutions. Remember, police officers, we’re approaching this as if this is all your fault. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on you. YOU must make the necessary changes to fix the problems.

  1. The first thing would be to weaken the power of their unions and guilds. This is going to be infuriating to some cops because when officers get fired spuriously, maliciously, and injudiciously, as with the firing of Atlanta PD officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan last week, they need the collective bargaining agreements that protect their jobs. However, I know there are a lot of good cops who are right now working alongside bad cops who only have a job because of union protection, and those good cops are appalled and scared for their own safety and the safety of the public because of these protections. Union protections often don’t even allow supervisors to move an officer from patrol duty to desk duty if they feel he’s unsafe, and this is pretty much a travesty that has certainly contributed to many unnecessary deaths.
  2. End the preference point system in the hiring process. We should be striving for the smartest police departments possible. The absolute best candidates are the ones who show intelligence and critical thinking skills, something reflected in your final score on the civil service exam. Some people get extra credit added right to their final score, and this extra credit is known as preference points. Right now, preference points are given to candidates for any number of things including legacy preference, residency preference, foreign language fluency preference, and military preference. Some of these things like residency and legacy preference are absurd. Just because you currently live in a jurisdiction does not mean you will be a better cop. Just because your father or grandfather was a cop does not mean you will be a better cop. I can get on board with foreign language proficiency because that is a valuable street skill, but education preference is also worthless. You can have a college degree and still be dumb, and in fact there’s little evidence that a college degree has any value whatsoever to police work. However, the real preference point issue I want to discuss is military preference points.Prior to 1997 our police departments were soft and officers were dying at a high rate, and somebody decided it would be better to supplement police ranks with soldiers. And this was a good idea.

    Tactically, prior to the North Hollywood shootout, police had little or no training in any weapons other than revolvers and shotguns, and our streets were ripe for the kind of criminal domination we saw in that event. Now, however, our police departments are overrun with retired military veterans, and, thanks to this 20-year war on terror quagmire we’ve been mired in, a huge number of them have actual combat experience. Although it’s good to have some solid tactical police officers with military training, there are too many right now. In fact, there probably aren’t statistics to prove this, but I would bet there are more police right now who have actual combat experience than there have ever been, maybe with the exception of the mid-seventies right after the Vietnam war ended. When all of your training for your entire adult life has been tactical decision making, every problem looks like a tactical problem. Every solution you arrive at is a tactical solution. Military vets tend to have a war mentality along with a blind obedience to authority, and both of these traits should be undesirable in modern policing. Compassion, critical thinking, and outside the box problem solving become back-up options. Instead, everything becomes a military-style movement with maximum force and minimum empathy.

    Contrary to popular police opinion, combat skills translate quite poorly to the civilian policing world. There are very few situations in which combat skills are necessary in policing. The times when those skills might be needed are so limited that we can certainly conduct our own training that is specifically pointed toward civilian combat instead of military combat and arrive at better officers than those who receive their training from the military where civilian casualties are an accepted cost of war.

    This is not meant to disparage veterans in any way. I love the idea of our veterans becoming our police officers. They bring a lot of quality skills to policing, however, intelligence and ability to think critically should be the number one priority in police hiring. A person should not be able to jump over a more qualified candidate for the sole reason that they get extra credit for serving in a war. This practice lowers the overall IQ of the department.

  1. Police officers need more training in both de-escalation tactics and in defensive tactics. When you’re confident in your training you’re less likely to escalate situations. If someone is attacking an officer and he feels entirely confident in his ability to fight hand-to-hand without weapons or tools, he won’t feel the need to quickly escalate the situation to more dangerous use of force levels. Police officers do not receive near enough training in either of these things, and academies should be expanded to enhance them. Additionally, in-service training should be expanded to include instruction in martial arts. If you’re going to give preference points to anything during hiring, let’s give them to masters of defensive martial arts disciplines. Imagine how many fights would end in the suspect being pinned instead of dead if all cops held black belts in Judo. Fear is a primary reason why officers escalate uses of force. Fear that they’re going to lose the fight, fear that their weapon will be taken from them and used against them or the public. Fear is the killer of rational thought. It is what has caused so many of the murders and accidental shootings we’re seeing. Making officers more confident, more capable of handling themselves reduces fear, and that will reduce the number of these critical incidents. Police academies need to stop instilling fear in recruits through the constant barrage of imagery of officers being murdered, and instead focus on making recruits more confident, more capable, and better at de-escalation tactics.
  2. Officers should call their sergeants and command staff by first names instead of titles and get rid of the titles “sir” and “ma’am” completely when addressing senior officers. If you work for a small department or a progressive department, maybe you’ve already done this, but this is still incredibly prevalent in large agencies. This really goes back to the hierarchical nature of policing and the need to implement a program similar to CRM for the airlines. It is now commonplace for captains to insist to the first officer that he call them by his first name as opposed to, “Captain.” The reasoning is that a junior officer feels more comfortable asserting a problem to “Bob” than he does to “Captain Robertson.” The same applies to police. Take a look at this video showing Buffalo police shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground. As a long-time supporter of police, seeing some of the videos of police violence against non-violent protestors during these riots is absolutely infuriating. It’s not that police are making many of these decisions, it’s that they’re following orders. The two officers in this case have been charged with assault, but I can’t help but notice the man behind the two officers. The two officers have actually stopped their advance to have a discussion with the citizen when the officer behind them steps up and says something. I can’t prove it, but it seems like he gives them an order. Maybe just, “Let’s go!” or “Move him along!” or something of that nature. I doubt he says, “Shove him to the ground!” but whatever he says, these officers react instantly, and they shove him to the ground. If they reacted to an order from a superior officer here, part of this responsibility lies once again in the hierarchical nature of police work. Smarter officers with more advanced critical thinking abilities might have heard that order and grabbed the guy by the arm, moving him along firmly but gently. Instead of “Yes, sir,” smarter officers in a less hierarchical organization might have said, “Easy Bob, he’s an old man,” when Sergeant Robertson ordered them to move the man along. Now, it is important to note that there’s a fine line here, and police departments, at least on the west coast have taken some pretty big strides to mitigate the militaristic lean of their forces. It is important for officers to obey orders in most tactical situations. Police training just needs to implement some sort of CRM program for when those orders create a dangerous situation to the public.
  1. Police officers need to be in better shape. Unions have regularly put a stop to physical conditioning standards which exist in hiring criteria but often are considered a violation of contractual rights for fully employed officers. This is why there are so many fat cops out there. Peak physical conditioning should be an absolute requirement of the job. Police officers who cannot pass a rigid physical need to be removed from the streets. Being out of shape endangers both your life, your partners’ lives, and the lives of the community. Being unable to fight because you’re in such poor cardiovascular health leads to lethal force being your only option. This is atrocious, and police departments need to put an end to it. Bring back physical standards for police officers. Every six months make yourselves pass a physical agility test that is equal to the standards for hiring (which, by the way, is a pretty atrociously low bar.) If an officer can’t pass the physical, give them a month to get there, then pull them off the street until they can pass it. It’s so embarrassing to see so many fat cops out there. If you’re a police officer and you’re in shape, I know you agree, so quit protecting the bargaining agreements that allow this. You’re contributing to dangerous conditions for yourselves and for the public. Strive to make the next generation wonder where the inspiration for this image came from:
  2. Police officers need more days off, PTO days without having to give a reason. When you’re having a bad day at work at Amazon, you might punch a package, argue with a co-worker, perhaps cause breakage during package delivery because you’re more careless. When you’re having a bad day as a cop, you write tickets for things you might have given a warning for otherwise. You arrest in situations where you might have cited and released. More importantly, you go hands-on with suspects sooner, your fuse is shorter, your temper is quicker to rise, you become more aggressive, and you escalate situations faster. Police officers have personal lives too, and when they’re having a bad day due to personal issues, they should be able to take the day off without any fear of reprisal. We expect them to be perfectly professional all the time, yet they have bad days just as frequently—and probably more frequently due to the nature of their work—then people in other jobs. And yet, they are still expected to put that behind them, to act professionally, to accept a constant barrage of verbal abuse on the job without snapping. No other job requires you to take abuse like that. This is an impossible expectation to set.
  3. Stop hiring so many young people. In many departments police officers are hired as young as 21 years of age. It costs a lot of money to hire and train an officer, and departments want to get as much time as they can out of them before retirement. However, this is a ridiculous strategy. The immaturity of a 21-year old, or even any officer throughout their twenties is very difficult to measure. People are still growing emotionally and learning during that time, and it often isn’t until something truly awful happens that we discover that this young person was not cut-out for the job. Young people tend to be more into the job for the power and the thrill of driving fast, shooting guns, and arresting bad guys. In this day and age, these are undesirable traits that are quite easy to cover up. Every department asks candidates why they want to be a cop, and every candidate answers that they want to help their community, however, how many 21-year olds truly want to help their community? I’m sure these unicorns exist, but the vast majority of them are lying. They want the badge. They want the authority. They want their friends to look at them with awe. They want to fly down the street with lights blazing and siren wailing and slam a bad guy against a wall to hook him and book him. They want the adrenaline rush that the job provides, and anything else they claim is pure B.S.
    In addition, cops get lied to all the time. Literally every day, with the vast majority of their contacts. This wears on a person, particularly a young person. Immaturity plus a callous indifference brought on by constant deception creates the veteran officers who couldn’t care less about the community and think every single person is a scumbag. Departments need to strive for maturity in their hiring process, and young applicants should be considered completely immature out of hand with a tough bar for them to prove otherwise.
    In addition to this, departments should strongly consider ending the desire for a racially and sexually representative department. Police chiefs are passing up qualified candidates to hire candidates who check a sexual or racial box, and it’s a terrible practice. In addition, they are pushing officers through the training who have no business passing just because they need to fill that quota. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Safeway hires terrible cashiers in an effort to have a racially or sexually diverse workforce. In fact, I’m all for enacting laws and regulations like Affirmative Action that ensure that type of hiring practice. But not in critical jobs where the lives of citizens are at risk. If you want to hire more black officers or more female officers, then target your recruiting efforts toward those citizen demographics, but stop pushing these check-mark candidates through training in situations where they otherwise would have failed. There are so many examples of officers getting into situations where they are so clearly out of their element, so clearly incapable of competently handling the situation, that you wonder how they could have possibly passed the stringent hiring process. The answer, nearly every time, is that they passed because of some external element like sex, race, or nepotism. This needs to end! This is killing people out there. You can see video examples of this here, here, here, and here. There are a hundred more I could link to, but hopefully this illustrates the point. It’s highly probable that none of these people should have ever become cops. There’s little chance they showed competence in simulated stress situations, and yet, here they are.
  4. Stop referring to each other as warrior, or sheepdog. Police need to bring an end to the mentality that they are the protectors of civilians who are all sheep. They need to stop looking at the population as if citizens are merely serfs or the hoi polloi who have no ability to defend themselves and are entirely reliant on the police. Even if this is true, this way of thinking is creating a mindset that is psychologically detrimental to police-community relations. If citizens are sheep then so are police officers. Police are simply sheep who have some training, and there are a lot of civilians who are better trained than the police! In fact, this article states that the average civilian concealed pistol permit holder has more pistol training than the average police officer and is actually a better shot. So, while civilians may indeed rely on the police to protect them from the occasional wolf attack, far more often we are simply relying on the police to be either impartial witnesses for our disputes, or to be agents of the state who are capable of deploying the state’s mechanisms, i.e. dusting our stuff for fingerprints to be run through the database when we get robbed. Police need to drop the mentality that they are warriors and sheepdogs and that civilians are merely clueless sheep who would all be dead if the officers weren’t there to protect them because that is such a miniscule part of what they actually do day in and day out.
  5. Police need to attempt to get the average time of their contentious encounters with civilians way down, particularly with minorities. Recognize the perception, right or wrong, that is out there, and fix it. Multiple studies have shown that the longer an officer spends in confrontation with a suspect, the greater the chance that it will go bad. Police can fix this. They can start by choosing to not enforce some of the more ridiculous laws out there. Police have discretion in most of the enforcement they do, and it’s time to start using that discretion. If someone rolls through a stop sign on a street with no traffic, coming almost to a complete stop but not quite, are you seriously going to tell me that you enforcing that infraction is making the streets safer? If somebody doesn’t use their turn signal while making a turn from a TURN ONLY LANE, have you seriously helped save lives by stopping and warning or citing for that? If someone has a license plate light out, or a tiny crack in their taillight with a wink of white light showing, are you seriously going to tell me that this is a safety hazard? Or, are all of these things just legal fishing expeditions, justified solely because the law is on the books, bored officers looking for warrants, drugs, or whatever else? These traffic laws exist for public safety. Officers enforcing them when there is CLEARLY no safety issue needs to end. Marijuana laws? What a joke. Stop enforcing them. Stop arresting primarily minority perpetrators of minor drug offenses. When you encounter marijuana on a routine encounter, ignore it or destroy it rather than citing or arresting for it, and, even more importantly, let the subject know that’s what you’re going to do right from the start. De-escalate the situation before it even begins to escalate.
  6. Stop lying to citizens in your everyday encounters. I’m not talking about lying during interrogations of detainees suspected of violent felonies, I’m talking about the lying that happens so often during routine traffic stops and encounters. Things like, “Just be honest with me and things will go a lot better for you.” So many times, I’ve seen police encounters where something like this is stated, followed by honesty from the suspect, followed by an arrest for some minor misdemeanor crime like marijuana possession. Let that shit go. Quit trying to get suspects to confess to something in a complete fishing expedition. Not only are you extending the time of contact with the person, you’re eroding what little trust remains. This is the era of video. Everything you do is being recorded. Why then, do you keep doing things that are optically terrible just because you’re legally allowed to? Start thinking about how your actions are going to LOOK to the general public not what the intent of your actions actually is.

Let’s talk about what Black Lives Matter and the black community needs to do in looking upstream for a solution. Remember, BLM, we’re approaching this as if this situation is all your fault. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on you. YOU must make the necessary changes to fix the problems.

  1. Acknowledge that the entire Black Lives Matter movement was based off of poorly interpreted data, and that the entire platform was a scam in the beginning. Admit that when Colin Kaepernick was kneeling in protest to what he claimed were racially motivated and disproportional police killings of African Americans, he was wrong and was fooled by badly manipulated data. Even now with recent events there’s a widespread movement trying to convince people that Kaepernick was correct after all, that police were killing blacks in a plethora of racially motivated murders. BLM has convinced people that cops are killing black people in extraordinary, racist-driven numbers, and it’s simply not true. There is no epidemic of racist cops. Take a look at this study titled, An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force from the National Bureau of Economic Research. I suggest reading the entire study which is incredibly informative, but here’s an excerpt:

On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities. On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account. We argue that the patterns in the data are consistent with a model in which police officers are utility maximizers, a fraction of which have a preference for discrimination, who incur relatively high expected costs of officer-involved shootings

There is plenty of ammo in this study and dozens of similar studies such as this one for Black Lives Matter to acknowledge the auspicious nature of their beginnings and to shift their platform to a more data-driven narrative that complains about police use of force against minorities instead of police killings of minorities.

  1. Acknowledge and attempt to fix the actual problem of blacks perpetrating violence against law enforcement officers. In the three examples at the very beginning of this article, all of the officers were killed by black men. These are the three deadliest attacks against law enforcement since 9/11, and they were all three perpetrated by black men. In 2019, 48 police officers were feloniously killed, 15 of them, or 31% by black men. In 2018 56 police officers were feloniously killed, 23 of them, or 41% by black men. In 2017, 46 officers were feloniously killed, 16 of them, or 36% by black men. In fact, in the last decade, almost 40% of all police officers killed in the line of duty were killed by African Americans. For a demographic that makes up only 13% of the U.S. population, these are atrocious numbers, and the black community needs to acknowledge it. Even looking at this from a police contact perspective, black Americans make up about 28% of all arrests in the U.S., so the number of blacks who murder the officers who contact them is significantly higher than for any other demographic even with that standard. This is a problem, and it falls on the black community to address it.
  2. There is an overall problem of violence in the black community. We’re going to address this as a societal problem as well, but remember, for this exercise we’re using the Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen idea of fully accepting all blame and using that to come up with solutions. The last weekend in May, when protests were flaring up over the police killing of George Floyd, there were 92 people shot and 27 of them died in Chicago alone. Almost every single one of these consisted of black men killing black men. In the past, BLM activists have scoffed at the idea that there’s a black on black violent crime problem, asserting that there’s also a problem of white on white violent crime, and Asian on Asian violent crime. They’ve argued that people tend to murder people of their own race, and that’s partially true. In 2017, 2970 blacks were killed, and of the known offenders, 2627 of them were black. That’s 88.5% for black on black murder. 264 of the offenders were white, or just under 8.9% for white on black murder. 3567 whites were murdered in 2017, and of the known offenders, 2861 of them were white. That’s 80.2% for white on white murder. 576 of the offenders were black, or about 16.2% for black on white murder. This isn’t an anomalous year either. 2018 statistics show almost identical numbers. Although white on white crime is definitely a problem, black crime, both against whites and against each other is markedly and detrimentally worse, and it’s a problem the black community could acknowledge and work on solving. Just acknowledging the problem and addressing it rather than denying and deflecting from it would be a good start.
  3. What is the common denominator in every one of these police shootings of unarmed black men? All of the victims were resisting, fighting, or fleeing. Remember, for this exercise these deaths are not the fault of the police. They bear no responsibility at all. If we look at this as the sole responsibility of the black community, then how do we stop all of these killings? Simply comply. That’s it. All these guys had to do was comply. The black community has ingrained into their youth that the police are bad, and if they get stopped or if they get arrested, they’re going to die. This simply isn’t true, as I hope I’ve illustrated with the surfeit of links to studies throughout this article, but the perception that the police are going to kill them absolutely is true. Parents of these youth and leaders of the community bear a huge portion of the responsibility. Marching with chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “I can’t breathe,” and deluging our youth with images and videos of African Americans dying in police hands has done the same thing that inundating police recruits with images of cops being murdered has done. It has instilled fear in both parties of these contacts. Fear is killing us. And irrational fear is killing us irrationally. So many of these shootings didn’t have to happen if the victim had simply complied. When a police officer decides to arrest you, comply. Argue later, sue them for false arrest, take your day in court. Adopt the motto that I’m trying hard to get the police to abandon. “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” needs to become the new motto of Black Lives Matter.
  4. Accept responsibility for racism. I suspect this will be the most contentious and difficult item of this entire exercise. The black community needs to take a look at why people are racist. It’s important to understand that generational racism is going to take a long time to erase. Many, many generations, but we are moving in that direction. There’s little the black community can do to erase generational racism that is passed from parents to children, but what they can do is focus on people who become racist without an education that instills it. We need studies into why people become racist during adulthood, and the black community needs to look at those studies and figure out what they can do to fix it. If it’s stereotypical perception, then let’s take a look at ending those stereotypes. If it’s cultural misunderstanding, then let’s take a look at how you can help educate people about the culture, how you can get them to embrace it and accept it. Racism can go both ways, and hate and vitriol begets hate and vitriol. If racism is being created by media portrayals of the African American community, then insist that those portrayals end, both with the media and with the subjects of the media report. I don’t know what it is that creates institutional racism, but if the black community figured that out and took responsibility for fixing it, those efforts would leach out to the sufferers of generational racism, cutting down the number of iterations it will take to end that ugliness.
  5. End the false narrative that police forces are rampant with racism. Of course there are some police officers who are racist. Nobody is denying that. What they are denying is that there is a systemic problem of racism in the police profession, and the data seems to back that up. Just the statistic that black officers shoot black people at a far higher percentage than white officers do should back that up. White officers are objectively terrified to shoot when the person at the other end of the gun is black. And this fear is contributing to far more white officer deaths than it should. BLM needs to end this narrative. When you have a solid platform for change, and that platform is fully supported by statistics and facts, then why do you need to augment it with narratives that are half-truths at best and quite possibly outright lies? This objectivity should be a priority for the black community.
  6. Stop deriding those who propagate All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter. Yes, they have appropriated your platform and undermined it. However, acknowledge that they’ve done this out of anger. They’ve done this because your platform was based off of misrepresentations and falsehoods that YOU disseminated. Allow them to feel vindicated, particularly with regard to Blue Lives Matter. Police officers and their friends and family are suffering. Remember, the blue community has suffered more felonious losses at the hands of the black community than the other way around. And their platform was actually based on facts and data. They are feeling unsupported, unappreciated, and left behind, and they’re still showing up and putting their lives on the line every day. Instead of deriding Blue Lives Matter, acknowledge them. Support them. Make your community understand that this is a two-way problem that requires support, compassion, and an open mind.
  7. End the usage of the n-word. Retire that word completely. I know it means “friend” to you. I know that you use it because you’ve, “re-appropriated it.” I know it’s important to your culture, but this word is POISON. I’ve read this article from (and I hope everyone will read it) that explains why you use it, but, as the author says, “The word is inextricably linked with violence and brutality on black psyches and derogatory aspersions cast on black bodies. No degree of appropriating can rid it of that bloodsoaked history.” In addition, very few people, white people in particular, are able to understand exactly why you use it. Why is this problematic? Because it’s really divisive. Division keeps us from coming together. Division keeps us from solving our problems, and we need to consider losing the things that are both unnecessary and divisive. The n-word is a relic of a brutal past, and, much like the statues and monuments we’re erasing all over the country, this word should be erased from our vocabulary. Let this word finally die, completely and utterly.

Let’s talk about what society needs to do in looking upstream for a solution. Remember we’re approaching this as if this situation is all our fault as members of society. All the problems we’re experiencing are entirely on us. WE must make the necessary changes to fix the problems. If you’re a police officer or you’re black, you’re obviously also a member of society, but I would rather you focused on your individual responsibilities above more than on the ones listed below. If all police officers and blacks accept blame in the society category, then there will be nobody to accept in the others, and this approach requires full cooperation from all three points of the triangle.

  1. How is it possible that there are still 24 states in this country where marijuana possession is still criminalized? How is it possible that there are 8 states where you can’t even use it medically, where it is 100% illegal and criminal? This is insanity, and we as a society have to fix this. END THE WAR ON DRUGS. It is a confirmed massive failure. Hundreds of studies have been done on the effect of marijuana legalization in places like Washington, Colorado, and California. Not only has it increased tax revenue and decreased police contacts and arrests, not one of the concerns of fear-mongering right-wingers has come to fruition. There is no increase in property crimes, no increase in DUIs, there is actually a decrease in underage possession, and there is a marked decrease in opioid use, and this last one is true in every state that has legalized medical marijuana as well. Decreasing opioid use and addiction ALONE is a very good reason for marijuana legalization. Minorities have been unfairly targeted for marijuana use, and crime begets more crime. White people have a tendency to use and abuse alcohol. Black people have a tendency to use and abuse marijuana. ( Alcohol is legal. Marijuana is illegal. Laws that shouldn’t exist or that are racist by either design or by application are OUR responsibility to fix. A young man gets arrested and booked for possession, and that leads to a warrant which leads to another arrest and booking, which leads to him being fired from his job, which leads to crime, which leads to further arrests, which leads to not wanting to go back to jail, which leads to running from the police, which leads to his death. THIS NEEDS TO STOP. This is not the fault of the police, and it’s not the fault of the black community, it’s the fault of society, and we need to fix it! I don’t even use marijuana, but it is incomprehensible to me that in 2020 it hasn’t been fully legalized, and the fault for this lies in right-wing extremism, the same people who brought us Blue Laws that prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday. This is nonsense. We must end this. We need to insist that our lawmakers pass legislation to change these archaic laws.
  2. Police are there to enforce our laws. We task them for that job. How then, do we blame them for doing the job we’ve tasked them to do? If we don’t like the laws, there are mechanisms to effect change, but let’s not blame cops because they wrote us a speeding ticket for going 7 over the limit, or they arrested us for possessing drug paraphernalia or having a suspended license. That is LITERALLY their job. They are LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. We need to treat them with respect when they’re doing their job, the job we literally pay them to do. The courtroom is where you have the ability to argue your case and prove your innocence. Police officers are mandated to enforce laws, and sometimes they get them wrong. Berating them or attacking them makes us part of the problem. This needs to end.
  3. Acknowledge white privilege and acknowledge that there is systemic depression in minority communities and that is the primary cause of black crime. It’s our job to fix this, and nobody else’s. Let’s talk about reparations for a minute. You don’t have to agree that slavery continues to have a detrimental effect on African Americans 150 years later to agree that these communities need a hand. You can agree that pumping money into depressed, primarily black communities will decrease crime and murder, and that reparations can be in the form of investments, both private and public, in the areas that need the most help. A compromise of this type hurts nobody, and it helps our communities heal and thrive.
  4. Allow me two paragraphs of soapboxing and then I’ll stop. I voted for Obama. I have never felt excluded or ridiculed when I’ve announced that to a group of conservative friends. I also voted for Trump, and when I admit that to my liberal friends, I am often ridiculed, demeaned, and my opinions after that point are dismissed out of hand. When I post something negative about Trump to social media, my conservative friends engage me in discussion without resorting to ad hominem attacks. When I post something positive about Trump to social media, I have been blocked, unfollowed, and called racist by acquaintances on the left. Liberals will attempt to justify this type of behavior by exclaiming that any and all support for Trump is misguided or intentional evil, and that he represents the absolute worst of society whereas Obama was a great man. They will attempt to explain to me that siding with righteousness even when it’s misguided is always acceptable behavior. The problem is, they have no ability to see the haughty, patronizing, condescending nature of their stand. The left is incredibly and detrimentally intolerant of any dissenting opinion. They tend to be completely lacking in compassion for anybody who doesn’t share their beliefs. Intolerance of racism is honorable, but it has led to complete fear of criticizing this cancel culture that is destroying us. Leftists have spun themselves into a funnel of righteousness that has made it impossible to criticize even the most ludicrous of stances by the fringe lunatics because of fear of reprisal. They have propagated this culture of calling so many people racist, that even when they see behavior that is so clearly cultural exclusionary extremism as opposed to racism, they are afraid to criticize it lest they be thought of as racist themselves. As a society, we have got to end this.
    We have to stop letting the far-left and the far-right control us. Think I’m picking on the left? As I said before, the far-right is just as bad. They are just as exclusionary and just as judgmental. They thump their bibles and declare their righteousness and moral superiority while often engaging in some of the most egregiously hypocritical behavior our society has ever seen. They will rail against sexual proclivity while lying in their mistress’s bed, or downloading child pornography. They will tell us how evil abortion is, how it’s murder, while they sneak their girlfriend off to another state where she can have an abortion anonymously. They will willfully and wrongfully misinterpret bible verses to declare alternative sexual preferences as morally wrong, while they carry on gay love affairs in secret. The far fringes of our society are the absolute worst of us, and yet we kowtow to them, not just allowing them to have the loudest voices, but actually encouraging them, propagating and fulfilling their lunatic ideas in an effort to ensure that we are not misperceived by those on our side of the centerline. The far-right will deny scientific near-certainties such as global warming or the Covid Pandemic and disseminate obviously fake, thoroughly debunked “news” articles from completely disreputable organizations as their source. As a society, we have to stop this. We have to be reasonable, tolerant, and less rigid with our beliefs. We have to be more open-minded, more thoughtful, and more empathetic to anybody who thinks differently. We absolutely need to approach our decision-making with logic, facts, and science instead of with emotion. We need to rid ourselves of the echo-chamber that our lives have become.
  5. We need to reduce the burden on police officers by developing agencies to deal with non-priority, non-dangerous calls for service. Our police officers have too many hats to wear. Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying. I’m absolutely not calling for a defunding of police in any way. In fact, I think police officers should be paid more money for the sole reason that it helps attract better applicants. Be honest—do you seriously want your police officers to be the type of person who fights that hard for a job that pays $40k a year? What does that candidate pool look like? I want my cops making serious bank. I want it to be a job that intelligent people, critical thinkers and people able to use logic and common sense are flocking to, not just young guys looking to flex. Whatever salary that requires, that’s the salary I want my police officers making. No, the budget for these other agencies should not come from the police unless it’s determined that shrinking the police department because of the reassigning of calls can be done with community safety in mind. I’m not versed well enough in state and local budgets to say where the money should come from, and I’m not naïve enough that I think it’s going to be an easy task, but I do know that our police officers are expected to perform too many tasks, and this is causing unnecessary deaths. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bandwidth existed for these social workers or whatever we would call them to be a volunteer corp. Citizens trained to perform specific tasks on a volunteer basis. There certainly seems to be enough interest in the idea and the desire for change that this is at least a plausible plan.
  6. Take full responsibility for racism. Racism is our fault as a society. We have long lauded ourselves for fighting a war to end slavery, but the rest of the world did this just by deciding it was wrong. Now we’re in another war, and it’s a war to end racism. Unfortunately, some people have taken this too far. They’ve made it their crusade to white-knight themselves and call out even the vaguest hint of racism, and this has had the reverse of the desired effect. It has resulted in a society that has descended into cancel culture, and it has only widened the divide as people compete to see who can discover the most subtle hint of historical racism in present-day objects. You end racism not by screaming and berating and destroying, but by changing people’s hearts and minds. You end racism not by tearing down statues and rebranding syrup bottles, but by having honest conversations. You end racism not with name-calling, insulting, and abusing, but with empathy and understanding. We have failed in our mission to end racism, and this one truly is our fault.


These lists are nowhere near comprehensive, and I recognize that the number of bullet points are not equal. I can certainly think of other things to add to the BLM list and to the Society list, but I’m actually hoping that YOU the reader will help me add things. As a member of one of those two groups, what can you add to the list of ways that we can accept full responsibility for the devastating divisiveness in our society today?

How far upstream can we plan in an effort to change our problems before they’re arriving at us? There’s a fable in the book “Upstream” that talks about a child drowning in a river and two citizens that jump in to save it. As they’re dragging the child out of the water, another one floats downstream flailing and choking and they jump in to save that one. Before they even get to shore, another child appears, and then another child and they have their hands full trying to save the children from drowning when suddenly, one of the men jumps out of the water. “Where are you going?” the other screams. “I’m going to kill whoever is throwing these kids in the water,” he answers.

Our society is drowning right now, and the problems are all developing upstream, around a bend, out of our sight, and we are overwhelmed with trying to stop the problems as we see them. What we need to be doing is looking upstream for the source of our problems and finding solutions there. In what way can you contribute to upstream thinking?

On the Karpman Drama Triangle of our current situation, the triangle itself is spinning out of control. The police, the black community, and society itself are in constant flux between The Victim, The Rescuer, and The Perpetrator. The metaphorical triangle is spinning so fast that it’s often difficult or impossible to discern which is which, and that means that we need to all look at the situation as if we are all of these things. We need solutions and ideas for how we can be none of these things, how we can move all of our groups completely off the spinning triangle before we’re thrown off into chaos.

What can you do to help?


Thin Blue Line article source material:,figure%20as%20high%20as%20440%2C000. Upstream, by Dan Heath Crime and arrest rates by crime and race. Officer grabbed her gun instead of her taser Video of officer grabbing gun instead of taser Video of shooting of Walter Scott Hispanic officer shooting a mental health worker Sam Harris making sense podcast

( Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs excerpt from American Sniper National Academy of Sciences study of racial motivation in police shootings. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell Crew Resource Management manual AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN POLICE USE OF FORCE – National Bureau of Economic Research Yale study on police shootings between 2000 and 2015 Buffalo police shoving 75-year-old Perpetrator profiles for officers feloniously murdered Murder offenders by race 2017 Murder offenders by race 2018 Alcohol and marijuana comparison study by race


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