- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2001

From my point of view, accusations of "racial profiling," and the quiet but spreading revolt of police against being penalized for what they regard as a fraudulent charge, are a bit of a problem.

"Tourism in blue" is real. It's the most important police story in the country. Yet, just as it is dangerous to a cop's career to be accused of racial profiling, so is it dangerous for journalists to write about it. You have to be very, very careful. This is nuts. If we are afraid to admit that a problem exists, and are unwilling to talk about it, we are unlikely to solve it.

When cops begin doing as little as possible on patrol to avoid being hit with a racial charge, untoward consequences follow. Most obviously, crime rises in black neighborhoods. This is already happening in major jurisdictions. Statistics are hard to come by, as chiefs, who are politicians, don't want the publicity.

Further, rising crime will lead, and is leading to, increased racial tension as blacks live in fear and blame cops.

Finally, racial polarization in police departments, already high, will grow. These are the prices of evasion.

To illustrate the problem, here is part of a representative letter I received from a cop in a large city far from Washington:

"The black officer (from Prince George's County, whose letter I recently quoted) is right. I was lucky enough to make it to retirement, but what's going on in my department is that nobody is handling anything but assigned calls and doing that at a minimum. I talked to one of my former colleagues today and he said he is doing absolutely nothing that will jeopardize his career and retirement or his family by exposing himself to an inquisition that always starts from the position that the officer is a racist. He is one of our very best men and he has thrown up his hands and quit. I can't blame him. Of course, black officers are immune."

Not quite. They are immune to charges of racial profiling, but I get a lot of e-mail from black cops who are very, very tired of being called Toms and traitors to their race, which is, in fact, what happens when they arrest blacks.

The officer goes on to say, "My department's chief is a politician who, to satisfy the mob, lets civil rights lawyers review complaints about profiling, so he can throw an officer to the dogs when it's expedient.

"If I told you how insane it is out there in the streets nowadays, you'd think I was lying, but I assure you it's worse than insane.

"So, in certain areas, the mob rules the streets and the cops are afraid to act. I would entreat anyone who lives in areas where alleged racial profiling is or has taken place to be armed and vigilant because the cops have their own worries and they are responding in their own favor like anyone else would, and the bad guys will run amok, and have in many cites already, witness Cincinnati.

"I feel for the residents of these 'profiling' neighborhoods, most of whom are decent hardworking people being held hostage by gangsters and thugs. But we can't help them and they will have to help themselves."

There you have it. Blacks think they are being singled out for mistreatment, and white cops think they are being penalized for doing their jobs. So they aren't doing their jobs.

Obviously there is disagreement as to who is right. But the important point is that it is happening. Judging from what I'm told by cops I know, it is going to keep on happening. If we follow the usual American practice, which is to call names and assume moral positions unrelated to reality, things are just going to get worse.

Is there the slightest chance that we will try to understand the problem? That we will, for example, sit down and discuss the matter intelligently?

No. Nobody wants intelligent discussion. The polarization is so great it paralyzes thought.

Journalists, who ought to help, won't. Reporters fall into two classes: Those who willingly promote the politically correct, and those who, like the cops, keep their heads down. Blacks are angry. White cops are angry. Both are sure they're right. Neither much understands the position of the other.

As the standoff worsens, we will keep our fingers in our ears, yell louder, demand this and charge that. It won't help at all.

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