Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What, you can't fight murder and police brutality at the same time?

The FOP is out of line

What, you can't fight murder and police brutality at the same time?

I've written a couple of times here about how when it comes to crime, there should be no reason why you can't wage the war on homicide on several fronts at once: Pushing for more personal, family and community responsibility while also getting ridiculous assault weapons off the street.

Same with reducing the murder rate and fighting against police brutality: The two things are not mutually exclusive, Except when you're the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, and when two cops have been charged with savagely beating an unarmed and never-charged suspect (who's pictured at top) -- then you see a connection:

And once again, John J. McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, lashed out at Ramsey.

"This is a disgrace," McNesby said yesterday. "It can't get any worse . . . Instead of tracking murders in Philadelphia, we should be tracking the persecution of police officers. It's open season on police officers. Not only do we have to watch out for the criminals on the street, but we have to watch out for the people we work for."

Look, even though the case against the two cops -- who've been criminally charged -- looks pretty strong at first blush, the men are innocent until proven guilty. And it's the FOP's role to defend them against the allegations. But I think this generalized allegation by McNesby of widespread persecution of the police is over-the-top, harmful, and a little ridiculous.

For one thing, curbing the worst abuse of police brutality will reduce crime, and make it safer for the 99 percent of good cops out there. Why? Because it will build stronger trust and encourage more cooperation from citizens who won't be resentful or unduly afraid of cops, which will make life easier for McNesby's rank-and-file.

Also, I think in any profession it makes sense to admit there are a few bad apples out there, and the goal is to get rid of them before they drag down the good works done by the vast majority. I know I feel that way about my own profession of journalism; I'm proud of most of what reporters do and sometimes we get a bum rap -- but I'm not going to rush out and defend a plagiarist like Jayson Blair and or the false reporting of a Judy Miller just because they're journalists like me. Likewise, if I were a cop, I wouldn't be mad at DA Lynne Abraham right now -- but at these two guys for making my profession look bad.

If I were head of the FOP, I might say that all the facts haven't come out, that the officers are innocent until proven guilty, and leave it at that.

I guess that's why I'm not head of the FOP.

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Will Bunch
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