Letter: White America needs to understand the racial issues in this country are systemic

Letter to the Editor

Editor,

When asked recently what the community could do to support its police officers, Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker responded with a simple statement: understanding. While in a sense this seems like a good response, minorities who face the constant life and death consequences from disproportionate police violence have long since forgotten understanding and are demanding change, and it is about time white America demands change too.

Understanding is no longer good enough.

Dresker states that officers are often put in situations where “they must instantly call upon all their training.” The prevailing sentiment from cops and their support across the country is that the untrained citizen must be the one to remain calm in any scenario with a cop. Furthermore, police officers in Washington are only trained for four-and-a-half to five months before they are given their badge and gun. In comparison, becoming a firefighter can take up to two years and becoming a sailor for the Washington State Ferries can take over six months.

The numerous jobs police officers have to perform is another area where Dresker asks for understanding. Police often find themselves dealing with many issues that should get attention from a trained professional in that field. When “leftist nut jobs” ask for the police to be defunded, it is usually so that other social programs that have seen their budgets slashed over recent years can operate properly.

The chief of police finishes his statements by suggesting that members of the local community avoid looking at the “news media” for information about cops, before concluding that our local law enforcement officers do quality work and hold each other accountable. While this is something every island resident no doubt wants to believe, the worrying trend of cover ups and systematic failures across the nation will not go far in reassuring many. The best thing to do if understanding is the desired result is a top to bottom reorganization of this nation’s law enforcement and a dramatic reallocation of federal and state funds.

Chief Dresker could be an amazing officer and I would still stand behind what I have said. White America needs to understand that the racial issues in this country are systemic; meaning that even if the system is full of individuals who are not racist, it would still function in a racist manner.

Connor McDanniel

Clinton

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