Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

Give Credit to Baltimore Police

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Although the six Baltimore Police officers have been accused of causing the death of Freddie Gray, few pundits have given credit to the Mayor, Chief of Police and the many officers for the way they handled the outbreaks of violence last week. Things could have turned out far worse had not the police largely handled themselves with the kind of disciplined calm and dignified restraint that helped quell citizen rage.

From my point of view-and I was not at ground level to see every situation that unfolded between the police and citizens- they organized, analyzed and strategized existing and emerging problems and could have easily triggered a far more combustible situation had they not taken a more prudent and deliberative approach.

As opposed to fanning flames of citizen indignation by escalating the incendiary tone of violent confrontation, they quietly moved into and peacefully held their positions. They galvanized, maneuvered and arrayed themselves into phalanxes of determined strength reminiscent of the old Roman soldiers and Spartan Warriors. “Discretion is the better part of valor. Discipline is the hallmark of the warrior’s code.”

It was obvious to me that “the preparation of the police was far longer and more extensive than their presentation on the front lines” during the week. It was strategy brilliantly executed containing tactical efficiency, uniform proficiency and “economy of force.”

Understanding the history of the confrontation of police in African-American communities, and knowing how they have been viewed by some people as the enemy who have not served and protected or revered or respected the people, few critics give credit where credit is due. Many police officers serve and protect and do a sterling job putting on their uniforms and going into service each day not knowing if they will return home to their families. The valor and courage it takes in performing their duties far outweigh the bad publicity received from a few bad examples.

As I listened to some of the critical questions and comments of some media people about police not acting more aggressively in putting down the “looters and rioters,” they missed altogether the fundamental master plan which was not to fight fire with fire by using violence to provoke more violence from citizens as is sometimes done under such volatile conditions, but the plan was to present a show of force and only use it when absolutely necessary and as a last resort.

This means that somebody carefully thought through their intervention strategies and battle plans by deploying textual maneuvers contextually interpreted and applied.

While there is much more work to done to harmonize and heal relations between Baltimore Police and other police departments across the nation with African American citizens, give credit to the Baltimore Police, and citizens too, for the way they basically handled themselves during these crises which prevented a bad situation from becoming much worse.

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