A Few Bad Apples

Yesterday afternoon, I was on the streets of Fort Worth, interviewing homeless men and women regarding one of my cases. The topic of the police came up and I made a comment about how I assumed the homeless in that part of town were treated. I was quickly corrected. These men and women told me that the police treated them with grace and respect. I was also informed that, despite a “few bad apples” most of the men and women in blue are good people.

As I watched events in Dallas unfold last night and into the early morning hours, the words and wisdom of those men and women echoed in my thoughts and prayers.

I have taken many a DART train and am sure that, at one time or another, I have crossed paths with the officer killed and the officers wounded.

I know many men and women in the Dallas Police Department, past and present. My sister-in-law’s father was one of the detectives escorting Lee Harvey Oswald out of another parking garage not far from the parking garage at El Centro when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. DPD did not cower then and they did not cower last night.

I have been on defense teams that represented people charged with killing police officers, including in Dallas. I have heard of acts of heroism and great service. I have also heard stories of police abuse, cowardice and incompetence, but not very often. You know, “a few bad apples.”

By God’s grace, I was not in Dallas for the march last night. I have attended them in the past, but was too exhausted from being on the street and in the heat earlier in the day. And, quite frankly, I have been disappointed by a few of the protesters that can’t seem to stay on message and, in my humble opinion, take things to extremes unnecessarily. You know, “a few bad apples.”

I have dealt with Chief Brown and his staff, several Assistant Chiefs and men and women on patrol. I know them to be good and honorable people. Today, I grieve with them.

Dallas Police Department and DART Police Department, know that the community, the State and the Country grieves with you. In one of the darkest times imaginable for law enforcement, you were shining beacons and gave true meaning to the term “to protect and serve.”

To the protesters last night, you were described as peaceful and cooperative. Stories are coming out of acts of bravery in which officers shoved protesters out of harm’s way, shielding those protesters from bullets. In a time of great angst over more police shootings, particularly of people of color, don’t let those “few bad apples” spoil the bunch. Last night should be a reminder.

Is some change needed in our communities? Yes. 509 fatal police shootings of civilians so far this year. 990 last year. There is no debate, one is too many.

Last night, 5 officers lost their lives. There is no debate, one is too many.

As I head back to Fort Worth today, I will take the time to personally thank every officer I encounter. I will let them know that I will be praying for their friends, their families and their community. And I’ll be praying for them personally. I ask that you do the same.

This is a complex issue to which there is no easy answer.  It goes beyond community policing.  It is not just about race.  It is not exclusive of a gun-toting society and its attendant mentality.  It requires so many facets of our society that a starting point requires all of us to work together.

But, one thing is certain.  As one group of people on the street reminded me yesterday afternoon, another group reminded me last night and into the early morning hours…there are more men and women of integrity and honor wearing the badge than their are “bad apples.”

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About Vince Gonzales

United Methodist Laity, married to a recent Seminary graduate seeking ordination. Active at all levels of the Church, I sit on the Board of The General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church, one of our 13 UMC Agencies. I also am the Chair of the Racial and Social Justice Task Force of Churches Uniting in Christ, an ecumenical group of communions, dedicated to the reconciliation of ministries and fighting racism, as well as representing the UMC at Christian Churches Together's Hispanic/Latinx Ministry Gatherings. Additionally, I am one of two committee members from the South Central Jurisdiction serving on the DisAbility Ministries Committee of the UMC. My polity pendulum often swings to both extremes so one never knows what they might find on this page!
This entry was posted in capital punishment, Dallas, death penalty, Ezell Ford, Ferguson, guns, Justice, law, mass shootings, Michael Brown, Peace, Police, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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