- - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Of all our wars, those declared and undeclared, the real ones and the made-up ones (such as the “war on women”), it’s the war on the police that worries society most. A war on the established order, and those who protect it, is a war on ourselves.

A policeman in New York City was fired on at point-blank range by a man determined to kill cops. Officer Brian Moore, 25, was a member of what Mayor Fiorello La Guardia first called “New York finest” and the fifth such attack since last December. Over the eight decades since, the New York City police force has avoided the scandals that have rocked other urban departments.

These attacks are only part of a war on cops. A propaganda campaign in the media has exaggerated every encounter of the police with violent offenders. The killer of Officer Moore boasted that “they also call me ‘hell-raiser’ on the street.” Slogans from the left and mangled statistics are used to indict the whole establishment of law and order. Apologists are ever ready to rationalize arson and looting by young offenders.

No serious defender of the cops argues that the police commit no mistakes, nor even deliberate and sometimes brutal misconduct within the 12,500 police departments with 600,000 uniformed and civilian officers across America. Such misconduct must be punished swiftly, and harshly.

But context and the full story is remarkably absent in much that is written and spoken in the growing criticism of the police. Neither the black leadership nor many critics, black and white, want to talk about the disproportionate level of crime in black neighborhoods, nor of black-on-black crime. To acknowledge the grim facts is neither racist nor illogical. Avoiding a discussion of the continuing deterioration of life in the ghetto should be out in the open. Eric Holder, the former attorney general, called Americans “cowards” for avoiding discussion of race in America. This is in fact a necessary discussion, though probably not the discussion Mr. Holder had in mind. A useful discussion will require three things:

One is not to blame every death of young black men on the cops without sufficient evidence, arrived at through impartial examination of “just the facts.” Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement of an indictment of the six Baltimore policemen in the death of Freddie Gray was a political statement. If the suspects, three of whom appear to be black, are guilty, the time to say so is when a jury concludes it to be so.

The liberal mantra that the problem is inadequate government funding to transform the blighted areas of the large cities must be refuted by cold facts. President Obama’s stimulus law assigned over $1.8 billion to the City of Baltimore and its 622,000 persons, including $26.5 million for crime prevention.

The problem is not fundamentally about money. There should be no assumption that enlarging police departments is an automatic solution. Minorities already account for one in four policemen, a considerably larger ratio than the percentage of minorities in the population.

Some advocates say the answer is the federalization of police departments. No proposal is more bereft of common sense. It is the relationship of the police to their local environment which is the most important part of the efficient functioning of police departments — and the key to eliminating the alienation from the public that leads to misunderstanding and police transgression.

If this war on the police is not stopped by the forces of reason and authority, an erosion of the peacekeeping apparatus and the system of justice will guarantee disaster for every member of society.

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