June 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter and the Thin Blue Line

Greene County got another reminder this week of why we usually give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt.

Police officers sometimes have to make split-second decisions that decide whether someone — including themselves — lives or dies.

Our prayers are with Officer Mark Priebe and his family; we hope he makes a full recovery. By all accounts he is an exemplary officer, husband, father and member of our community.

Prayer vigil for Officer Mark Priebe

George Floyd’s death is a reminder that sometimes members of law enforcement abuse that trust and that minorities disproportionately suffer that abuse.

Because sometimes those life-and-death decisions aren’t made in a split-second. Sometimes those decisions are made over the course of almost nine minutes.

Most of the people who go into law enforcement truly want to protect and serve.

But there are those who are attracted to positions of authority just because they want to wield that authority.

And sometimes even the best officers make decisions based on a person’s race.

I don’t know many whites who have a story about police harassing them without cause.

Almost every black person I know does.

Deaths like George Floyd’s happen too often and with such terrifying consequences that we cannot continue to view them as isolated incidents.

I don’t know the answers. Right now, I’m mainly trying to listen.

But some of the changes we have to make should come from our state legislature: From how we hire and train officers to how people get treated in the criminal justice system. And yes, we need to investigate whether spending an ounce of money on mental health and education means we can save a pound on law enforcement.

That’s the message I hope you take away from the protests and rallies, here in Greene County and around the world, even when they turn into something else.