By Ken Horn
Editor’s note: Ken Horn, of Matthews, submitted this written public comment to the Matthews Board of Commissioners for its June 22 meeting.
In the aftermath of the recent killing of George Floyd and other events, our law enforcement agencies and police officers have come under attack. Our police offices are being personally vilified, accused of being racist, violent and criminal. Some groups are going as far as demanding that we defund or abolish police departments altogether.
It is undeniable that racism has a long history in our country and it is also true that law enforcement has a history of abuse towards the African American community. However, it is also true that in our lifetimes we have witnessed tremendous growth in our society as it relates to diversity and tolerance. This fact is clearly demonstrated by the wave of support for racial justice that is sweeping across the country.
This does not mean that our society or our law enforcement departments are by any means perfect. These reoccurring events clearly expose structural problems in our law enforcement departments and society in general that need to be addressed. However, painting all of our police officers with a broad brush of racism is not only false, it is intellectually lazy. Furthermore, suggesting that police departments should be defunded or abolished is not only stupid, it is dangerous.
We should not persecute all of our law enforcement officers for the acts of some. Instead, we should work with our police departments to address issues and work to improve safety and security for everyone in our community.
The police officers in our community do much more than arrest people. They help you when your car breaks down and they come when there is a medical emergency. They come when your home is broken into at night and they provide protection to victims of abuse. When you call, they don’t ask what political party you belong to or what church you go to. They just come.
For their service, they should be respected. However, at the same time, our police offices and departments must be held to the highest standard of integrity. These events expose the enormous damage one bad cop or a handful of cops in a department can do, not only to individuals but the community as a whole by undermining the trust that is needed to hold communities together.
So my question is: What is the Town of Matthews doing to address this issue?
We have an appearance/tree advisory committee, an environmental advisory committee and an economic development advisory committee. But do we have a police oversight and advisory committee and should we?
Are trees more important than safety and trust?