Don’t judge all cops by actions of few

Images coming across TV screens of late go beyond troubling. If you think I’m referring to the senseless acts of terrorism and the myriad atrocities playing out across our world, I am not. Terrible as these are, they already receive ink from a wealth of news sources. I doubt that I could cast any more light upon them.
What I am referring to is something that I had hoped had gone the way of the Edsel. But before I delve into this, let me first explain my perspective, lest misunderstandings
My family features two members who work as cops in one of New Jersey’s largest cities. They take their positions very seriously. I have nothing but respect for them and the many other career officers who strive for integrity and professionalism in their work. Therefore, what I am about to say about certain law-enforcement officials isn’t a nod to cheap journalism, but rather a plea on behalf of these dedicated public servants
whose good names and reputations will be sullied if a few bad eggs aren’t reeled in.
You may have noticed that the Occupy Wall Street protests are on the move. I have personally seen small groups assembling within our coverage area. These gatherings have been peaceful for the most part, with the exception of one incident that I witnessed personally. It involved a lanky student protester and a rather large cop.
As I was sitting at a stoplight in my car, I saw the two men exchanging words. OK, these things can happen. But then something alarming occurred. As the protester remained seated, the cop inexplicably pushed him. In no way, shape or form was this
citizen inciting the crowd, challenging the officer, or attempting to resist arrest. Yet he forcefully pushed him. Luckily, the matter ended as quickly as it began without any apparent injury to the student.
Recently, a few cops sprayed military-grade pepper spray directly into the faces of seated, non-violent protesters at UC Davis, California. The act was so over-the-top and sadistic that School Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi denounced it as “appalling.” The two officers involved in the incident were suspended from duty on Nov. 20. Their final fate
hangs in the balance.
If the moral of this isn’t already apparent to you, it should be. Police officers move throughout our communities each and every day. The vast majority keep the peace by assisting those in need and arresting those who have broken the law. In order to do
their jobs properly an element of trust needs to be maintained with the very citizens that they serve. When rogue cops like the aforementioned bullies come “off of the rails,” so to speak, it obviously does harm to those citizens that they have pushed, peppersprayed, or otherwise assaulted without cause. But an even more insidious form of damage will exist long after the incident has passed.
After watching the UC Davis incident on TV, one of the cops in my family put it bluntly: “Man, this isn’t good. It’s hard enough for us out there! These cops obviously don’t have the right temperament for the job, but in the end it won’t be just them who
end up hated and mistrusted – it will be all cops.” No matter where your views on the current protests fall, truer words have never been spoken.
— Jeff Bahr

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