In a nearly unprecedented action, the Louisville, Kentucky Police Department has declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of an imminent announcement regarding the Breonna Taylor case. Physical access to downtown Louisville is being restricted, and the police department is enacting several other protocols to keep not just its community safe, but its police department as well.
In its announcement, the Louisville PD stated “We recognize that this is an inconvenience, and will cause difficulty for those that live, work and have business downtown, and we apologize for this inconvenience. However, public safety is our number one priority, and it would be irresponsible if we did not take preemptive action to preserve it.”
Another city in these United States braces itself for what feels like an inevitable spate of violent unrest on its streets. Many similar demonstrations have led to widespread damage and confrontations between communities and their police departments.
These dramatic actions come just over a week after a pair of Los Angeles Police Departments officers were ambushed as they sat in their cruiser by a cowardly gunman. The heroic actions of how the officers survived the attack were captured on closed-circuit television cameras and the officers involved need to be lauded for their incredible bravery, even after being shot.
The confrontation at the emergency room of the hospital where the officers were brought for treatment is reprehensible and represents the worst our nation has to offer. No one – regardless of their profession – should have their access to emergency care blocked because of political demagoguery.
Make no mistake – no matter which side of the issue you come down on, these physical confrontations perpetuate senseless violence that erodes the ability for effective dialogue or constructive community building.
The roots of community policing are enmeshed with the recognition of the need for ongoing dialogue and problem-solving, not acerbic confrontations using force, weapons, and carnage that impacts the homes and businesses of any community.
Regardless of which political party you support, there needs to be an acknowledgment that our country needs to value and respect human life. Whoever wins the November Presidential election must recognize that the streets of our nation need healing, and peace-seeking leadership has to be promulgated from the highest office in our country. There is clearly no easy solution to resolving some of the social inequities and calls for equal justice shaping so many of the civil unrest demonstrations. But anything other than a clear recognition of the wounds the country is suffering from, along with a playbook on how to attempt to heal the relationships between police departments and the communities they serve will be a grievous disservice to the population of this country.
It is going to take years to rebuild the bonds of trust in some American communities and their police departments. It will require leadership from government, clergy, and community leaders, working side-by-side with law enforcement leaders from every arm of justice.
The work to understand community risks, to develop fair and equitable policies, and to find common ground must begin immediately. We owe our communities nothing less.