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Nobody is abolishing law enforcement

After 400 years of slavery, African-Americans are entitled to support the abolition of police organizations that have been the iron fist for the white society. They are unleashing their anger against centuries of sidewalk injustice, false witnessing, evidence tampering, physical abuse and harassment, all of which have been too common up to the present time.

So they are entitled to a little slack. Just because white people are in the majority is no excuse to keep defending inherent bigotry harbored in the depths of every human heart.

Wisdom from Madison

We can find good counsel in Federalist No. 45 authored by the most founding of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, who pointed out a profound truth:

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

But we aren’t angels. Therefore we need external and internal controls to protect the citizenry and to keep the peace. Unfortunately, through the years we have not had effective controls on the behavior of some police personnel and they have brought retribution against all officers.

Something Must Be Done

Abuses have finally become transparent and even the white society recognizes that steps must be taken to bring fairness and justice to law enforcement.

That being said, those who think we can abolish police departments are dreaming. Almost everyone in society knows that there are plenty evildoers just waiting for the opportunity to rob, murder and pillage.

We need better psychological testing to detect inclinations for violence; we need interstate reporting to get abusers out of the system; we need to let police people do more community relations; we need to be sure salaries and fringe benefits attract good candidates.

Police Ranked High

A 2017 survey taken by the Gallup organization asked folks to rate the honesty and ethical standards of different fields. In a list of 22 professions, police officers ranked sixth. If that doesn’t sound good enough, the clergy ranked ninth. That tells us that the police are held in good stead in spite of the bad apples.

All police have been given a rough time during the past few months. Some loose lips have made demeaning remarks that are bound to impact the moral of officers that have served honorably.

When the smoke is cleared – when police reform is done – we can’t leave the scene with a demoralized police system. Police officers deserve to feel good about their professions. So must the public.

Nothing Happens Now

Too many citizens were quick to hear and repeat rumors about abolishing law enforcement. Only people who are ignorant about the operation of our governments get disturbed. Sometimes, only one or two policymakers make radical statements that are reframed: “Do you know what they are doing now…” The truth is that they are doing nothing until the idea goes through the laborious policy mill. And nothing ever looks like the original proposal.

Generally speaking, to get any policy – good or bad – to a governor or president’s desk, requires sustained public support of 60 or 70 percent of the electorate and six or eight years to mature. All government action is slow.

In a democracy as diverse as ours, the political people have to do a lot of negotiating to get every interest on board. And when the dealing is done, nobody gets all of what they wanted. Because we are not angels, we always want more than our share and we crab when we don’t get it. In the matter of police reform, nobody will get what they want and everyone will feel cheated. That’s America.

Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.

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