By Craig Hastings
I am beyond sick to death listening to self appointed experts that have never done the job telling those that are/have what they need to do to be better at their job. I’m talking about all of the radio and television personalities being paid as much as four or five million dollars a year repeating the same statement over and over for two or three months now. “Police officers need to have more training in the areas of race relations and use of force tactics.” None of these talking heads tell us exactly what that training might consist of. None of them have followed up the next day, the next week, or even the next month to tell us what they have discovered that training regime should include. Not one of them that I’ve listened to have ever been a police officer or been to a police academy to find out what new cadets are being taught when they attend for a half a year’s training before they are sent out on their own patrols. Instead, the same words flow from their mouths in such a way to make them all sound like an authority on the subject. I heard this week on a local radio station that an area police academy administrator was also saying “More training!” My god man you can’t train racism out of the minds of those few that are not open to change! No number of hours of spoken words, white board graphics, recorded videos, national statistics, or threats of criminal arrest will weed out every single police cadet that does not believe all people were created equal by God and should be treated accordingly! These cadets that successfully become police officers somewhere will only be discovered by their actions during calls for service in the field. It’s the duty of their own fellow officers to act. That’s what needs to be trained in police academies in America.
I’ve attended what I believe to be one of the finest both educationally and disciplinary in this state and probably many others; The Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield, Illinois. I attended the course designed for municipal and county police cadets. Many years later I attended The Illinois State Police K9 Academy for narcotics detection training with my own German Shepherd. I can tell you from someone actually being there that our instructors left no stone unturned nor any question unanswered when we studied the do’s and don’ts of diversity training. Most importantly what I learned from my whole experience at both academies is this; there are some people you just can not change how they feel about people they believe are not like them regardless of color, even their own.
These cadets can straight “A” all of the tests you put before them. They listened, they took in all of the instruction, they studied at night and they came to class and never missed a question. But what the instructors couldn’t do was change the way these cadets think. And how does instruction, words on pages, words spoken from someone standing before you in a classroom, change who you are? Instruction can help those of us that really want to understand the how’s and why’s of other people interact in their communities that are so different from our own from where we were raised. We are the majority, fortunately. However there is a minority that for whatever reason don’t want to understand how to change their way of thinking. Maybe/probably it is because of how they were raised as children. What was it they were told (taught) as children that is so embedded in their minds that they just can’t change how they feel about people unlike themselves?
I’ve been doing this cop thing for forty years and I’m telling you I’ve seen those people that became police officers that could never shake how they really felt regardless of how many classes they attended that were designed to change how they think and interact with those people unlike themselves. I certainly don’t have any answers either. “Well, we do in depth pre-screening to weed these people out before we hire them,” so say even more of the “experts”. That’s a wheelbarrow full of crap too. Most of these employee prospects are smart people and no one, regardless of how good they think they might be, will trip these people up because they know going into these pre-screen what the interviewer is after! These pre-screeners applaud themselves for catching and washing out a few applicants. But, these applicants washed out are the idiots a police department wouldn’t want anyway and for a whole host of reasons!
So what is the best way to avoid hiring police officers that are one of the few that bring an unforgiving attitude about people not like them? I try to hire as many home-grown Tuscola people that are good enough to do this job. When that isn’t possible I look to the surrounding police agencies because most of the time either I have watched their careers or my current officers are able to give me advice as to how they are doing. And finally, a few times Tuscola has had to just roll the dice and choose someone from a batch of applications of people unknown. Race does not and will not enter into our decisions. In fact, I think it’s to a police department’s advantage to have a mix of both male and female officers and at the same time an inclusion of people with different ethnic backgrounds. I believe Tuscola has done well and done our best to hire the best qualified people and at the same time throw to the wind the ethnicity of all the applicants giving everyone an equal chance to be hired.
But I hire one and on rare occasions maybe two officers at the same time. My job is so much easier than say a department like New York City that hires as many as four hundred or more people at a time. I’ll guess it’s an impossibility to successfully screen and discover all the bad apples in a group so large. You could keep these cadets in training for a full year or more and never discover what they’re really like until they finally hit the street and they’re on their own patrols. Even then it might be some time before other officers or command staff see any signs of bad acting. You see these people will feel out the employees around them to see if any of them have the same thoughts and emotions concerning people of other ethnicity they themselves do not care for. They’ll bond with officers they feel share the same judgements as they themselves do. In time maybe there will be an instance where one of these officers will have to help cover up a bad act of another. This behavior will grow over time and others will become part of the same bad behavior.
Finally, the people in America must understand there is not now or ever will be an absolute fix to the problem as long as police uniforms are fitted to human beings and not pre-programmed robots. Defunding police or worse abolishing police completely are the most ridiculous movements ever promoted. Even in little Tuscola this would never work. The administration might farm the police calls for service out to another agency or maybe with new legislation hire a private security group with police arrest powers but, there will always have to be a big guy available to help the little guy in times of trouble. Any of you that fear a racial divide is taking place in America today; remove police entirely from the equation and see what happens. America will relive the wild west all over again with the only law being a six gun worn about a person’s waist. Only the strong with the best fire power will rule the day and the weak will be their servants/slaves to do their bidding. There would be rulers of all colors and servants/slaves also of all colors. It’s our time to choose.
On a lighter note; anyone with dogs that are living outside during the day take notice of your dogs ears and tips of their noses. I was outside Friday and I was getting bitten by dozens of flies at a time. If I swatted and killed four, five more would replace the four. And no I didn’t smell bad either. It was terrible. I raised German Shepherds for thirty years and some summers were worse than others with these flies. Those dogs whose ears stand up are attacked worse than those whose ears lay flat. The tip of their nose gets eaten up on any dogs outside. By the end of the summer these flies can actually eat away enough flesh to deform a dog’s ears. I’ve seen it happen. So what to do? First talk to your veterinarian. What I did was cover the tips of my German Shepherd’s ears with vaseline twice a day. The tips of their noses were a different matter. The dogs could lick their nose so vaseline was not an option. I used neosporin. I rubbed the neosporin in well and for some reason the flies wouldn’t stay on my dogs noses. There are commercial products out there in both spray and cream that you can buy. The spray I have purchased did work to keep the flies off the ears but not the nose again because they licked it off. Please make the extra effort and pay attention. These areas can become infected over time and…it hurts the dogs to get bitten! I know because I was hollering like a sissy myself all the while I was getting bitten!