In the role of protector, shouldn’t officers be held to a higher standard of accountability? Doesn’t an officer’s duty to the public extend to treating the public with basic dignity—treating people, treating children, as human beings? Stop-and-frisk has sown mistrust between police officers and the communities they are supposed to protect; in some neighborhoods, the police acronym “CPR,” which stands for Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect, is understood as standing for “Cops Practicing Racism.”
This policy is, at a minimum, humiliating to hundreds of thousands of law-abiding blacks and Latinos. Every single man of color I have asked about it admits to a fear of the police. Many of us have read or heard about teenagers of color who have been stopped up to sixty times in their own neighborhoods, and about their mothers who tell them to never leave the house without identification—and to never, ever run from a police officer.
The violence perpetrated on communities of color is clearly action based on a negative perception of difference, on fear, and on stereotype. That we sanction this policy is especially problematic in today’s super-connected world, where people from many countries and of many races are in more contact than ever before and when people from all walks of life identify with being multi-ethnic. More of our young people identify with being citizens of the world—our world is a beautiful and colorful place. We need to acknowledge this and learn to embrace our differences because they are part of who we all are. To me, this makes stop-and-frisk a moral issue, and an issue that should concern us all as practitioners—people committed to moving beyond our superficial differences and into the heart of our true nature.
Degna Chikei Levister, MRO