By Bill Bratton
Over the past several years, police officers and some of the communities they serve have experienced a crisis of confidence. Trust has eroded in all directions.
Much of this stems from the weight of history, particularly the parts of police history that intertwine with our country’s legacy of race-based oppression. It has recently been inflamed by outrage over several high-profile use-of-force incidents. Some of those incidents, such as the murder of George Floyd, deserve that outrage. Others do not. But they all deserve scrutiny, and every police leader has a duty to ensure that our profession does not practice or tolerate injustice.
But abolition — or even broad defunding — of the police is absurd. Most people want policing — particularly those in marginalized communities. New Yorkers “want to see cops in the community,” City Council member Vanessa L. Gibson, who represents the West Bronx, said during a defunding debate last summer. “They don’t want to see excessive force. … But they want to be safe as they go to the store.”
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