What if what we have is all there ever will be?
There is a narrative that has started that causes me discomfort. It goes, nobody wants to be a cop anymore. I have heard this come from elected officials, heads of police departments, and people who are frustrated about the amount of crime in their city. Behind the comment is a implication that nobody wants to be a cop anymore because of all the attention they have received, because we are asking licensed and armed officials of the state to be held accountable. The implication behind the statement is that movements are to blame for why nobody wants to be a cop anymore.
So what decision makers have done is invest lots of money in trying to recruit and retain more cops. There is even legislation being proposed to give cops a tax break. All because they are under appreciated and nobody wants to be a cop. Right?
As a social worker, I know something about being under appreciated in my field. As an activist, I know something about being under pressure by those with power. It’s not fair for movements to be blamed for why nobody wants to be a cop. Perhaps it’s no ones fault. Perhaps its an indication that an outdated institution such as policing, rooted in the control of Black, Indigenous, and Brown bodies has started to run its course in a society where we demand liberation and community safety. Perhaps, if we could open our hearts to it, its a portal to a new way of creating the world we want to thrive in.
That question came to me recently listening to one of the heads of a law enforcement agency repeat the narrative that morale is low, nobody wants to be a cop. I asked, what if all the officers you have today is all there will ever be? What if you’re never able to hire another new officer? What then? What do we do about public safety? What programs do we need to create and fund? Where will we go? What then?
What gardens could grow?
We haven’t asked those questions? What we have done is add more money to the same old solution. What then?