Louise Doyle has it all wrong when she sarcastically writes "Yes...let's all join in the hatred of all police for the sins of the few",( Fri.,10/2 ). She goes on to beautifully list all the many actions we need and honor police for, and why they provide such a service for us in society. This is not an issue which is "one or the other". We can value and respect what police do for our community, while at the same time want to demand reforms that will address some very real systemic problems in our policing system as it has historically functioned.

    My grandfather was a policeman who was given a medal for rescuing someone being electrocuted in a flooded basement. He was a calm, practical guy with with a wry sense of humor who loved baseball. I grew up loving and trusting policemen!

    And now, as I learn more and more about the lopsided rate of arrests and incarceration in our country of certain minority groups, see the massive numbers of people in jail in the U.S., by far the biggest percentage of a population of any country in the world, and have watched over the last decade and longer, the unnecessary killing by police of unarmed people disproportionately of these minorities, I KNOW we need to overhaul our justice system.

     We ask our police to do way too many jobs for us, some for which they get no training. The idea behind "defunding the police" is all about making funds available for other people and community institutions that can better meet some needs of the community so police don't get stuck with them.

We also need to acknowledge and begin to understand the existence of what is called institutional racism in our country, something we can learn has been an integral part of it since the very earliest colonies were established. Minority communities want and need the protection and enforcement of law that police can provide as much as any other group of us. But when the reality has been that you fear to call the police because you are not sure you will be safe from them, and that you have to teach your young children to be extremely careful how they move their bodies and what expression to put on their faces when they are interacting with the police, even if they have done nothing wrong or are asking for help, there is something very wrong with this system. And we are, finally, in a nation-wide way, in the midst now of trying to understand just what is wrong and what are the ways we can fix that. It may be a painful and confusing process, but working on change is necessary and positive for us all.

 

Paula Schramm

Enosburg Falls

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