Police officers—powerful and relevant (Jan. 30)


A police officer is the most powerful person that we can meet in life. They have the power to help, hurt, imprison and to kill and most times with impunity. On a number of occasions I have heard an overwhelming number of persons who vilify the police and view them as anti-Black and vicious. It is my absolute belief that our neighborhoods that have difficulties now could not survive without the police being available and professional. It is a very difficult and dangerous profession and most people would not accept the position.
Over the course of my life I have had numerous encounters with the police and was arrested five times, the outcomes were…three were dismissed and two NOT GUILTY. I personally, during a period of time, knew almost every Black police officer in the Pittsburgh Police Department and some of them were more vicious than any White policeman that I have ever witnessed abusing a Black person.
In the ‘60s I was a co-founder of the first Allegheny County Narcotic Squad, and witnessed from the inside that racism was alive and well throughout Allegheny County before Donald Trump was born. There was a time I was employed in Pittsburgh’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Our primary responsibility was to investigate complaints against the Pittsburgh Police Department. We had no real authority to punish any police we had deemed violated any infractions, we could only recommend, and our recommendations were generally ignored. We would also interview persons who applied for police positions and one question we would ask is, “Why do you want to be a police officer?” The answer that was given the most was, it was a full-time job and no layoffs, the number two answer was to prevent crime and the number three answer was the power that goes with the pistol and badge, and all of the answers were considered legitimate.
I have spoken with sons of police and they would tell me about some of the conversations around the dinner table as it related to daddy performing his job in the predominately-Black zones and how the monkeys act and live.
To be a police officer can be a thankless and dangerous job. Would you be one?
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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