he roar seems to only be getting louder. The news cycle hasn’t yet focused on something else, in part, due to the nearly two weeks of marching, protesting, rioting, and, in some cases, looting related to the accused murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
The conversation has shifted, ever so slightly, towards what positive changes could come out of this. What on earth could make this different than all of the other protests and social conversations around race in this country that, unfortunately, emerged after the death of a minority at the hands of a police officer? There does seem to be a new thread by those leading some of the discussion and they’re targeted at improvements to the police force. This is where I feel technology can help immensely. There are those who will disagree, but the use of body cameras and other recording devices can easily help tell the full story of interactions with suspects both positively and negatively. But the real focus seems to be on letting some of the air out of local police departments.
The police are armed to the teeth in preparation for any possibility. Riot. Hostages. Meteor attacks. Earthquakes. Zombies. The thinking would be focusing on local or “alternative” policing and dialing back the armored tanks and bazookas in hopes that de- escalation of tensions with the community might result.
Now, if normal people on both sides of this discussion could sit down and discuss without yelling and punching, it’s probably a no-brainer that the Platte County Sheriff’s Department doesn’t need an armored tank in its garage. A tank which, according to the sheriff’s department, has been used five times in the three and a half years they’ve had it.
Platte County is a relatively rural area. Where it crosses into Kansas City and KCI, those are under jurisdictions that might be more armed or could provide more resources if TIE Fighters decided to attack the airport. Throwing that money toward softer policing techniques might be a great idea.
Hey, I’ve worked with budgets before. You never want to have $100,000 left over at the end of the year so you spend it on something, anything, just so you can say you spent your whole budget – ensuring that is your starting number next year. I think, however, opting less for toys of warfare and more toward practices of serving and protecting might be a better spend to help overall.
But these are not normal people. These are angry people on one side and angry people on the other side. It’s sad to think that it has come to this. Slashing funding for a needed public service because that funding is used inappropriately in times of crisis is sad. It’s not something I want to see happen. I also strongly feel that building a county or small town war machine that is the envy of Jerry Bruckheimer film is way over the top. Over aggression on both sides has brought us to this – and mutual de-escalation seems to be the best option remaining. That means talking and words and not pepper spray, looting, or rubber bullets. It’ll require a leap of faith on both sides – and that’s going to be the real kicker.
In fairness, I don’t know anything about what the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, or even Kansas City PD spend in those categories. But I can tell you they have war toys because they’re emblazoned across their social media. Why have a tank if you don’t intend to use it? It’s much harder to say that you have shifted your officer deployment strategy toward a community-centered approach with outreach efforts onto a website. Doesn’t all fit on a bumper sticker very easily.
In many ways, the lack of spotlight on police and sheriffs north of the river gives us a great opportunity to lead by example here. Recognize that we probably have similar problems and proactively solve some of them before the CNN cameras — or the zombies — roll into town.
(Proactively follow Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed and catch him on Landmark Live at the brand spanking new plattecountylandmark.com)