Inform yourself, then you can complain

Posted

Thanks to Facebook and other forms of social media, public figures take lots more abuse than they once did. Some of that criticism is, no doubt, fair criticism. After all no one’s perfect and when issues turn on opinions, there will always be opposing points of view.

Among those who take the most abuse are law enforcement officers. The very nature of their job places them in the middle of conflict and they are often the first arbiters of truth and consequences in those circumstances.

Police officers have been the subject of public derision since the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles in 1988. That resentment grew to a fever pitch with the incident in Ferguson, Missouri and other officer-involved shootings in other parts of the country.

Whether you agree that what officers did in those circumstances was right or wrong, it’s also undisputable that the wrongs – or perceived wrongs of others – shouldn’t be assigned to other officers who didn’t play a role in those matters.

And, yet, all too often, local officers are accused of everything from profiling and excessive use of force to playing politics with who they charge and who they let off.

Those complaints are often without merit and they are made by people who have a bone to pick and agenda to promote.

What are the rest of us led to believe in those circumstances? Did a law enforcement officer show favoritism? Did an officer pull that car over because of the color of the driver’s skin?

Before we make such claims, it’s best that we educate ourselves.

Therein lies our point. The Roxboro Police Department, for going on 12 years now, has offered an inside look at its operation. The Citizens Police Academy helps those who attend, learn about many of the processes officers use to de-escalate dangerous situations, how they determine if they have probable cause to stop someone, how they test for drunk driving and how officers investigate crimes and collect evidence.

Educated citizens are better prepared to call out misbehavior when they see it than people who are angry over some perceived slight.

If you’re interested in getting an insider’s look and truly becoming educated about law enforcement procedures, call the Roxboro Police Department an apply for a seat in the next Citizens Police Academy. Classes last 11 weeks and begin next month. It’s time well spent.

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