Op-ed by Rev. Michael Vaughn –
Well at the time of this writing we have had an election and the voters of Rochester have decided that they desire to have a Police Accountability Board (PAB). The concept may seem innocent at first but as you think about it, it is not. My fundamental argument with such a board is that is establishes more bureaucracy and “bows” to folks that believe that they are doing good by bashing the police.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are bad police officers as well as bad doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc. However, there is not a citizen board that oversees these folks. These folks would ordinarily be overseen by the organizations that they work for or professionals that are skilled in that particular area. What we have done here is to create a board that is essentially going to be overseen by civilians that have no clue as what it is like to be a police officer. That is one of my biggest issues!
The other issue is that I believe that we need to enforce the laws and policies that are already in place, demand that people do their jobs in enforcement and when there is a proven case of a bad police officer, justice needs to be quick and all parties unified in rooting out the “bad apples”.
It is easy to talk against the entire police force where there are officers that do wrong in the execution of the duties. One of the reasons is that the media enjoys sensationalizing whenever there is misconduct alleged by a police officer. More often than not that officer is not only found guilty in the court of public opinion but they are given a death sentence. However, if the charges against the officer are dismissed or the incident found to be within the proper guidelines, the media will scarcely report that that occurred, leaving a bad name and reputation for that officer specifically and the entire police force. This is blatantly unfair, dishonest and calculated by the media. When a police officer does wrong, they need to be publicly reprimanded and whatever the established punishment is, they need to be given it. The reason why is that police have to be held to a higher standard because of the power that they wield and the respect they demand when in uniform and definitely when they raise their weapon.
As such, the police force, beginning with the captain have to strongly condemn the actions and commit to a full, unbiased, transparent investigation with the promise of dealing to the fullest extent of the law, an officer that has been found guilty of wrongdoing. This will help to build the “good will” in the people that the police officers serve and will let the public know that no one is above the law and that though we are “brothers and sisters” in uniform, we will hold each other accountable for the sake of the people they serve and the profession they love!
Having a PAB is a propaganda piece that does not serve the best interest of the community nor the police department. It will serve to drive more distrust against the police and the community that they are sworn to protect. I say this because now anything that comes forward to this board can be made public. Whether or not it’s true or alleged. However, once it is out there, it is out there. Also, this separate, unelected entity should not dictate punishment for police officers nor have the power of investigations. We have enough bureaucracy as it stands now, we don’t need more.
I do realize that there are bad police officers that are doing wrong to folks in the community that they serve! However, there are good police officers that don’t need to be subjected to the belittling that they get from some members of the community and the media. They need to be treated with respect and honor as the job that they are expected to do is not only dangerous but challenging to them from physical, mental and emotional level. However, they still do it and we as a community can sleep better at night knowing that someone has dedicated their lives to “protect and serve”!
More emphasis needs to be placed on those in charge to root out the “bad apples” not given those with an “axe-to-grind” with the police sitting on a board overseeing them. So no, I’m not a fan of the PAB!
Rev. Michael Vaughn currently serves as senior pastor at New Wineskin Church in Rochester. Contact him at email@example.com.
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)