On Aug. 1, police precincts across the city celebrated National Night Out, an annual event that aims to improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve. The events, which were held throughout Queens, provided an opportunity for residents to meet the cops who work at their local precincts, sample free food, play games with their children and learn crime-prevention tips.
Sometimes, we take the police for granted. People often look at cops and see a threat as opposed to a neighbor or friend. Police officers have wives, husbands and children to whom they want to get home safely each day. This country must learn to respect its police officers and see them as people who are trying to make their communities safer. People should not view their relationship with the police as “us vs. them.”
When there’s a need to criticize the police or the method by which they enforce the laws, we should criticize them. But when they do something right, we should praise them. National Night Out is a great annual event that enables residents to get to know the person behind the badge and uniform and goes a long way to creating a more harmonious relationship between officers and residents.
So, it’s a shame when the president of the United States encourages bad behavior by law enforcement officers—as he recently did when he condoned police misconduct by suggesting that it was appropriate for arresting officers not to be “too nice” to “thugs being thrown in the back of a paddy wagon”—rather than standing up for citizens’ rights.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have rightfully criticized the president’s comments, which indicate that officers can abuse the law. The president does not have the right to encourage the breaking of laws by law enforcement officers. By doing so, he’s sending the wrong message to children and further reinforcing the fear that some minority groups have of the police.
Within the span of a week, National Night Out provided an example of how relations between police and their local communities should be, while the president’s comments portrayed interactions that should never take place between law enforcement officers and the people they serve.