Dean Clough

April 21, 2021

Portico Darwin: Chauvin Verdict + Policing

Phew - somewhat like the last election, I feel America had a near-death experience re:  the Chauvin trial.  Hard to imagine what our country would look like this morning if the jury had gone all Simi Valley on us.  I am hopeful The Blue Line has finally been broken and this is the start, however tiny, of true accountability for the actions of the myriad police forces in our country.

As you think about how we move forward as a nation from the murder of George Floyd, and the conviction of Derek Chauvin, I hope you'll consider the following.   Note that any statistical-sounding things come from Snopes, AP Fact Check, and/or 

And before reading this, know that I go out of my own way, personally, to chat with our local police whenever I can, and thank them.  I will always think of the police as being (or at least they should be) on our side and an integral part of a thriving community.  But with that said:

  • Unlike the moronic and ridiculous "Defund the Police", "Reform the Police" or "Re-think Public Safety" ring true to me.  Simply stated, not every situation calls for someone armed to the teeth.  The police are often put in circumstances for which they have zero training.  We can and must do better. 

  • By definition, policing is a hard job. But no one is forced to be a police officer.  It is a privilege to serve the public and carry a badge, and with those privileges come responsibilities.  In my various professional roles, I have been held accountable at every step.  Why is policing different?

  • Being a police officer isn't as dangerous as one would believe, or sadly, how police portray the occupation; across many studies, it typically barely makes the top 10.

  • Qualified Immunity must be eliminated - wrong is wrong.

  • This is not the right way to get closer to the community.  The federal government should immediately cease and desist making surplus military-grade weapons, vehicles, etc. available to local law enforcement agencies at deep discounts.  A typical American city, no matter how bad, isn't Kabul.

  • Likewise, the general militarization of our police forces that occurred after 9/11 - no matter how tiny the town, or how unlikely the threat - must be reversed.  It was a pot of money that too many communities were only too happy to dive into.    But maybe a new school would have been better than armored personnel carriers that never come out of their garages?

  • Police unions need to stop being a part of the problem, and rather, a part of the solution.  The days of them dictating to city hall what they want must end.  I am pro-union, but other than Major League Baseball, I am not aware of a more powerful labor union than that of the police.  But they're too powerful.

  • Mandatory body and vehicle cameras that must be worn, proven operational before a police officer's shift starts, and kept operational until the shift ends.  That's easy technically and a no-brainer procedurally.  Sorry, the police work for us.

  • While police brutality is not solely an American problem, we have far more death and mayhem at their hands than any other OECD nation.  Why is that?

I will close with what I hope will be an empathetic outreach to police.  I sincerely believe most police are dutiful public servants, that want to be a part of the community in which they serve.  But I believe their fears, conscious and subconscious, real or unfounded, stem from knowing that any interaction with anyone could end in gunfire, because there are so many guns out there.  That makes EVERY situation concerning for them.  If we didn't have the crazy number of guns, the police wouldn't be as on edge - why would they?  If you doubt that, go visit any major city in any other Westernized democracy.

I have put forth my proposal for addressing the gun issue, and I think until we address the overpopulation of guns in the US, we'll never really have policemen and policewomen that aren't afraid themselves, and thus ready to start shooting (or choking) someone at any provocation.

Peace to you, and may the murder of George Floyd and the conviction of his murderer Derek Chauvin be the first of many steps towards addressing systemic racism and police brutality in America.  And here's to The Blue Line being erased forever.

I look forward to any comments, and as always on serious matters like this, I will publish your comments unedited and without wisecracks or rebuttals.   Thank you for reading this.

About Dean Clough