I play tennis several times a week in the county park in the mostly black community of Goulds. On a busy night there are probably 600 people there. It is a great place.
Lately though, I have been uncomfortable. The county police have had a large presence these last few weeks. Three patrol cars doing the slow circuit around the park. Not once does an officer get out of the car and walk among the people or speak to residents. Why? And more important, what does this say to the good people in the community enjoying their park? Are they dangerous? Are they suspect? Are the police there anticipating trouble?
I teach civics. I explain to my students the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, the ideal that the government and the police are here to protect their rights. Then I spend time in their neighborhood and I feel like a liar.
I understand the stress of being a cop. Any secondary school teacher, such as myself, gets it. Most of us have been threatened, cursed, menaced, even lunged at and pushed.
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Officers, get out of your cars. Respect the people you serve. Protect yourself always, but never, ever cut yourself off from the people you work for. Be a part of the community. You will be welcomed.
David Biegen, Miami