The Loss of Moral Authority: Baltimore Police Department’s Neutered Response Is a Growing Nationwide Policing Trend

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Over the next few hours, days, and weeks, as we all begin to digest the images of the City of Baltimore falling into a State of Emergency, one of the most glaring will be when a group of primarily white police officers are being pummeled by rocks and bricks from what appears to be larger group of young school-aged black males.  In fact, several police officers are seen throwing rocks right back at the crowd, in an apparent effort to defend themselves. As a former police–detective, one of the first things that came across my mind was “why didn’t they draw their weapons and use deadly force?” Surely, the police were legally justified in doing so…so why the hesitation to pull the trigger?  But then it hit me.  A lack of moral authority by police department's across the nation has racially neutered their response under the bright lights of a national audience, and Baltimore, with its black American mayor and black American police commissioner helplessly fell right into line with this cultural trend.

It’s a bizarre form of 21st century political, social, and cultural self-castration. It’s a fear that whatever or however the police respond in these situations under the national spotlight, even when they are clearly justified in using force, they will be perceived as global racists...a label a segment of the policing culture has embraced ever since the very first Slave Patrols. It’s very sad and not just because it may seem surreal through the eyes of a few people seeing police stand-by as passive observers, and just watch as property is destroyed right in front of their eyes...the police turned invisible and became defenseless… BUT because this is the exact position of "invisibility" the police nationwide have placed themselves in by not adequately addressing the historic relationship between the dysfunctional policing culture and its subjugation of the black American experience. For decades the police have been "invisible" to acts of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual brutality on the black human condition in Baltimore. Based on their own past and current lawless behavior against black Americans, the police have lost any sense of credibility or "moral authority" to stand on, rendering them almost powerless to enforce the law in situations like these.  If you are a resident of Baltimore or in any city across this nation, you should be disgusted by the police departments racial incompetence, spurred by the criminal justice systems historic structural violence, that has allowed these events to even get to an uprising-fashioned boiling point.  It’s an ugly portrait of policing painted by the hands of its own culture, that has now proudly added the City of Baltimore to the growing list of “racially neutered policing agencies” that will now have to be rescued by the National Guard. I'm confident the Baltimore Police Department will now "talk & act tough" and "retake the streets" since their federal big brother is now standing over their narrow shoulders, but its far too late for such late night theatrics. I wonder how many more Baltimore’s this nation will need to see before the policing culture wakes up to the fact that the “police are the black American community and the black American community are the police.”