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Roemer: Message being sent to police will make attracting best candidates difficult, situation worse | COMMENTARY

I’m having trouble imagining a world without police, or even one where the police have had their teeth pulled.

I don’t want to be the person sent to deal with reports of gunshots in an area of Chicago where gang activity is common, and where I will have to chase after someone carrying a gun down a dark alley at 2:30 in the morning. Anyone else interested?

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Whatever society does to reduce the number of questionable police shootings cannot result in the most qualified for the job saying no to a career in law enforcement. Less qualified police means more unwarranted shootings, not fewer.

Police deal with the unpredictable every day with outcomes that are equally unpredictable. We desperately need police with the greatest aptitude for the job who are most likely to consistently perform at the highest level of competency. Unfortunately, these are the people who have plenty of other options when it comes to choosing a profession. No level of training is ever going to turn a person who does not possess the appropriate aptitude into a first-rate police officer. If we are forced to hire second- and third-tier recruits because the people we really need refuse to consider a career in law enforcement, expect to hear more about police who accidentally reach for their gun instead of their taser.

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An armed, gang-involved 13-year-old-boy flees down a dark alley, and it was a police officer’s job to chase after him. Leaving aside for a moment exploring why a 13-year-old is out on the streets of Chicago in the middle of the night, anyway you look at it, it’s a tragedy But no matter how tragic, given the circumstances, is anyone shocked someone ended up being shot that night? Who exactly failed this child? The police?

But there are those who are calling for the officer’s head, just like there are those calling for the the head the Columbus, Ohio officer who saved a young girl from being stabbed to death as she was pinned against a car. Consider the message this sends to law enforcement everywhere.

Now we’re not only going to send you into the most dangerous situations imaginable, we’re sending you with a warning: We are going to second-guess every decision you make, and if you end up shooting someone, beware! It is quite possible we will demand you’re fired and go to jail. Then we’ll go after your family’s assets.

OK, best and brightest in society, does that make a career in policing any more palatable? Not only does it chase away those who might otherwise seek a career in law enforcement, it chases into retirement the most qualified individuals already there.

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There are legitimate concerns that need be addressed on all sides of this issue, but the last thing we want to do is to make things worse. We need to hold “bad” police accountable, but denigrating the entire profession by suggesting all police fall into that category is not only wildly dishonest, it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

Of course, there are activists, and even members of Congress, suggesting we should just get rid of police, altogether — and while we’re at it, all prisons, too. Why not? What could possibly go wrong?

People who are acting to inflame passions need to just stop talking. This problem is not going to be solved by spewing empty rhetoric and painting all police as the enemy. Anyone who genuinely desires a way forward has a duty to push into irrelevancy people like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, “Auntie Maxine” and their media enablers. Standing in a crowd of angry people encouraging them to be more confrontational, and shrieking irrational demands on Twitter, is at a minimum, counterproductive.

The problem is going to be solved by people who are able to look at the situation objectively, seek input from all stakeholders, determine root causes for the problem, and then offer reasonable, comprehensive solutions. I hardly think walking through the streets with a pig’s head on a stick or convincing people all police are out to get them moves us in the right direction. The problem is complex. The solution will be, too.

Last year, Sen. Tim Scott offered us a good place to start, but politics prevented his ideas from ever reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

Why is making incremental progress on any issue never acceptable? Everything is always framed as an all or nothing proposition — and inevitably, we end up with nothing.

Chris Roemer writes from Finksburg. Reach him at chrisroemer1960@gmail.com.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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