WINDHAM — Where to begin?

I guess with my perspective:

I’m in my 67th year, having lived the first 19 of those in the Portland area, followed by three years in the Army, then four years in college in Maine.

After that, I worked out of state for 20 years, during which I lived and worked in cities in 15 states east of the Mississippi River.

Following that, I moved back to Maine, where I worked for 10 years at two firms, then spent 10 years in private practice; the last 20 years of my career included work in 13 foreign countries.

My point is that I’ve been around a bit and observed (and occasionally interacted with) a number of police departments, some small, some large.

I’ve seen and experienced law enforcement officers who are, frankly, “bad cops.”

I can also report that I’m white and that the majority of my interactions with police have been positive.

Caveat: This is not directed at local police departments.

I do recall instances in the early 2000’s wherein several Portland police officers were accused of excessive use of force.

There were two jury verdicts against the department in civil trials, though the two officers who faced criminal charges were acquitted.

Nonetheless, I suspect most people would agree that our local police departments have improved over the years via better training, operating procedures and leadership, which makes it highly unlikely that police in our communities would engage in the kind of behavior captured on numerous cellphone videos and given national media exposure over the past few years.

Full disclosure:

My son-in-law and some of my grandchildren are black.

And I’ve experienced within my family instances of police brutality and racial profiling.

And because of that, the video images I see in the national media strike very close to home.

They infuse me with the kinds of emotions understandably felt by families of those who have initiated movements like Black Lives Matter.

I struggle to wrap my brain around the harsh views held by white people who have not experienced police brutality, racial profiling by law enforcement or worse.

After watching videos of police officers shooting people in the back or at point-blank range – people who are generally black and clearly unarmed or prone beneath the officers – how can some members of the public then deny that there are hugely serious problem in police departments that engage in that kind of behavior?

Rather than admit that police such as these should not be wearing the uniform, they excuse or dismiss such conduct with comments like:

“Well, we don’t know all the facts – wait until the investigation has run its course and let that determine the outcome.”

Or “That’s one dead black at the hands of police. Look at how many black killings there are at the hands of other blacks.”

How can one conclude anything except that people who rationalize this way are in denial of and blind to the facts?

Is it somehow OK for police to kill black people when there are so many more instances of blacks killing other blacks?

On top of this kind of logic, such people invariably elect to make it a political issue as though, somehow, apparently, it’s President Obama’s fault.

This phenomenon, however, is not political.

Clearly, it’s societal and cultural, as well as indicative of poor training and leadership within the departments where it takes place.

In an Another View guest editorial in the July 24 Maine Sunday Telegram, Walter Eno and took issue with two columns by Alan Caron on this topic.

Mr. Eno made a couple of germane observations:

“Who are the police and where are the police who have sanctioned violence against people of color?”


And I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Eno’s view that “… it is in the public’s interest to root them out and prosecute those bogus officers of the law before they do further harm.”

I suggest that the answer to the issues raised by Mr. Eno is simple in concept, although difficult to implement.

It’s good cops getting rid of bad cops, and that includes cops on the beat, their commanders and departmental leadership.

If you want a sound bite, that’s called “Police policing police.”

— Special to the Press Herald