The danger of generalizing

Updated 6/22/2020 10:37 AM

Events involving police officers in Minneapolis, Atlanta and elsewhere have aroused concern about use of force practices of law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The response of citizens, activists, politicians and the media has been loud, and in some cases violent. Well intentioned protests have brought about discussions of "defunding the police," "disarming sworn officers" and providing "civilian oversight entities."

Such responses are to be expected when police officers in some jurisdictions have taken the lives of black men through excessive use of force.


These responses require careful consideration by reasonable individuals and governing entities. All agencies are not identical. Jurisdictions, departmental size, agency leadership and accreditation standards are varied. Importantly individual police officers bring varied talents and abilities to the job.

In nearly every case there is a desire to serve and protect. Uniformly, if you ask a police officer why they became a police officer, they will answer "I want to help people."

What happens that results in abuse, social insensitivity and failure to adhere to departmental policies? That is what needs to be discussed before taking unilateral actions that will be difficult to reverse.

When being a police officer becomes untenable, young men and women no longer will a career in law enforcement. Police work will simply become a job that no longer engenders the finest human qualities of good judgment, wisdom and respect for others.

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Rushing to judgment is a recipe for unrest.

James R. Hatcher


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