Do Communities Need Policing?

In Lew of recent efforts to deface #blacklivesmatter murals, the claims that some of those actions were done by those in opposition to defunding the police has left me at a quick conundrum-


Do communities need policing?



I grew up making go-carts out of old baby strollers and umbrellas with my friends in the 1990’s South Bronx and loved to stay in, Craft and Create visions from my imagination out of whatever material I could find. It was fun being a kid who was too busy for gangs or drugs. There were times when I did feel like an outsider. I made the best of it and never adopted proper ‘hood aesthetics’, and both the Streets and I were fine with me being comparably weird. 

This didn’t mean I always felt comfortable in my own neighborhood, however, and 10yr Old me felt at ease seeing a police car cruise pass the store I frequented for candy re-ups. As I got older, and grew taller, and earn decent respect from the neighborhood… ‘hoods’, I worried less about the people the Police were watching and more about the police watching me. I recall the feeling of uncertainty as I made my usual runs. Convenience the Store owner to let me bring my bike inside because what kid in that ear used locks anyway?

I remember this one occasion when I saw a police cruiser across the street from my favorite store as I round up after 6pm on a Summer evening. Chancing my early curfew for a few more bags of chips, I waited until there was room in the store for my bike before I asked to bring it in. That room never came and I was left wondering if the cops would watch my bike. They were right across the street after all and looking at the store. I felt it was a default that they would stop a crime in progress, plus who would steal a bike with the cops around?

That day was one of quite a few where I watched the Police in my community stare aimlessly at the people they were meant to protect as if they couldn’t tell the difference between the Crime and its victims.  I asked the Drug Dealers on a corner two blocks away if they’ve seen my bike. I was as polite to them as I was to the police who brushed me off with a forced smile and a “we don’t do bikes, kid”. That was also the 1st time I knew someone was being an asshole, even though I couldn’t prove it. 

My bike was returned to me before my mother knew it was stolen...which, also revealed it was stolen for at least an hour. I made better acquaintance with the Drug dealers, and once my older Bother was in the picture, he secretly ensured the relationship was limited to that. Never the less, I turned to dope dealers before I tried the police again. 


In this scenario,  a few men dealers on a particular corner were my Police. And I understand why we didn’t snitch. These Men were not the right force, by the hood has a mutual agreement.  “ we got you, just don’t get caught out there”. Which translated too limited liability for the cornermen if you get shot by mistake. Seemed Fair, honestly. 


Do Communities Need Policing?


YES.

By whom, is the question. 


If you’re rich and in the richest part of your city or town,  you have a security system to protect your assists. If enough of your neighbors sign up for the same company, boom! Local security and emergency responsive unit. Sure they may dispatch the police for the grunt work, but that private company logs the security details too. If anything, Local law enforcement has become adjacent to private security in this rough scenario.


The point is, when you have something to protect, you invest in it out of your own best interest first, and your community second. Many black and Brown Communities need their own safety and emergency response agency. Those tax dollars funding agencies that undermine the quality, safety and integrity of the people and communities they are meant to serve and protect need to sure a better return on investment because I’m sick of paying for my oppressors. 

 

Community Safety enforcement agency.

Mitigation committee.

Whatever you call it, we need it. 

We need it for the firework blasters, the drag racers, the burglars, the Families with troubled teens or disturbed elders, the local gangs who shoot up the parks we bring our kids to.

Sure I have meant some decent cops. I even walked alone in the basement in front of two of them as they had Guns at ready while we investigated a burglary at 12 am at a school I once worked. I even then, I was afraid we would see an intruder and I would be shot in the back, by accident, by the kinda cool cops watching it. 

There is just something inherently strange about under-qualified strangers with Guns coming to my rescue. 

Defund the police? Sure.

Only if they give us our money back so we ‘Bet on Black’.

 

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