There will continue to be all kinds of commentary on the events in Ferguson. I just want to make an observation:
Using all kinds of military gear regularly on the job tends to isolate the officer from those he is protecting. And serving.
Notice that last word: Serving.
To be in authority over others is a great burden. One must be of service, while in authority. Christ modeled that extremely well, as the servant-king.
This is the reason that the Highway Patrol Captain was able to calm things down. He walked among the people as a servant, not as an overlord.
And we, as the people being served, have a great burden also:
“Don’t go getting all pissed off until you have ALL the facts!”
That’s a familiar line from my past. Here’s a couple more:
“Yes, you have the right to free speech, but you don’t have the right to abuse it.”
“Everybody gets their turn to speak, even you. And don’t interrupt. I don’t care, DON’T interrupt!”
And yet another line:
“When you have a hammer in your hand, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
Officers, please get rid of all the military gear, except your stick, radio, cuffs, Mace, and sidearm. Let the SWAT guys handle that tense stuff. Actually walk the beat instead of driving around in the car. Follow the example of police in the UK who walk a beat and don’t carry guns. They are trained to handle every situation without resorting to weapons, and manage to do remarkably well without resorting to deadly force in every situation. Get to know your community, and let them get to know you. Get into the schools, and talk regularly to the kids about what you do and let them ask questions. Be a part of the community, not just heavy-handed controllers.
My wife remembers that even in the busy community in which she grew up, the cops would show up at school and give out baseball cards. Then during recess, they’d play basketball or baseball with the kids. Heck, I even remember the local cop coming in and talking about his job, and how we could help him do it by simple things like being aware of traffic, riding on the sidewalk on busy streets, making ourselves visible to motorists on country roads, that kind of thing. We even got to climb all over his car and ask a million questions. Every time there was some community safety thing going on, we’d see the local cop right there at school.
And for us, the local cop is a guy like us, with a job to do.
Something to think about.