Identity politics is a distraction from uncomfortable reality.
The Providence Journal’s headline on a Katherine Gregg story draws attention to an important point about what is hidden: “RI lawmakers ask: Should police face stricter discipline?” Put simply, the bright spotlight on race makes conspicuous what the politicians, unions, and activists are trying to keep off to the side, in the dark.
International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) union activist Tony Capezza provides a good launch point when he says, “There has been no evidence to suggest there is a problem with the current Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.” That is simply false, and if elected representatives were actually representing the people of their districts, they’d know and say so.
Turn off the cameras and ask any town administrator or mayor (maybe even police chief), and problems with that particular bit of legislation might be all they talk about. A town can have a police officer on camera, stealing from the town repeatedly, and his employer has no real option but to move him toward a graceful retirement, complete with a big check for unused sick and vacation time.
This is clear abuse, where we hold police officers to a lower behavioral standard precisely where they ought to be held to a higher standard.
Capezza has a point only because the distracting focus of the political debate is on race and the question of whether angry, politically motivated mobs should be able to second-guess everything that police do. In that context, of course police need some protection; otherwise, things can get very dangerous very quickly.
So, we’ve got the new face of RI Democrats, Senator Tiara Mack, declaring that “we need to ABOLISH the police. Not reform. Not defund. Abolish.” And this outlandish, should-be-disqualifying attitude scores her political points while hiding areas of actual need for reform.
A local advocate who looks for real public safety reform will eventually be told by some insider that he or she is putting lives at risk. For Mack and her fellow-traveling party, that’s actually true.