I received an interesting phone call the other day. A gal I know said she wanted to ask me a question. She prefaced her enquiry by noting how we disagreed on a number of matters but she seemed to think the matter she was enquiring about was associated with views of mine, even though she repeated not agreeing with some of them.
Her query was, "What does woke mean?" I explained I understood its use today referred to individuals becoming aware of realities they previously might have not believed to be true. Probably one of the most significant areas of being "woke" was with regard to the prevalence of racism.
She replied she had begun to think that was what the meaning was, then immediately related the topic to those today becoming "woke" to discriminatory actions, even racism in our law enforcement. She noted those people who had that belief would be sorry if funding was altered which she seemed to assume would result in loss of the protection from our police -- as though any proposed change in our police department policies, functions, or re-allocation of funding would result in undermining the safety our police could provide.
I reminded her of a decade or so younger mutual acquaintance (deceased now) who had years earlier shared with us stories we all found quite appalling, even objectionable, of actions of some of her family members in law enforcement, even one who had been a very high official in state law enforcement. Yet, this person's overall beliefs were very much aligned with that of the gal with whom I was talking, that no change in law enforcement practices relative to discrimination was needed.
My caller acknowledged recalling our mutual acquaintance's examples she, too, found unacceptable behaviors, but there was no further progression of thought that just maybe something needed fixing. Apparently, both of their beliefs are that those law enforcement individuals were just a couple of rare instances of bad attitudes but no recognition the system might need some overall adjustments to lessen the prevalence of such actions reported elsewhere, too.
How does that make sense? If the problem is so prevalent not only with those two officials but most everywhere else, too, as is being revealed, perhaps there is more of an issue than just a few so-called "bad apple" law enforcement persons. Something more may need reassessment and change -- hiring requirements, training, policies, to name a few areas that should be re-examined.
I mentioned to her that some years ago, here in California -- perhaps in some other states, too -- there had been significant decreases in our mental health care system services to decrease costs. The unintended consequence placed more burden on law enforcement to criminalize some of these people's actions absent the health care they needed.
Mentally ill patients were released from care settings back into ordinary life for which they were ill-prepared to function effectively. They often did not have adequate access to, support for their mental issues, or receiving monitoring to try to ensure they take necessary medication. Some individuals, unable to cope, initiated behaviors necessitating law enforcement being called to protect law-abiding citizens, and even these ill patients from themselves.
I think of family issues, neighbor quarrels, acquaintances squabbles, distorted thinking with poor judgement resulting in calls to the police to quell disputes -- social issues others might be better trained to resolve to avoid violence, the challenge of helping those with the inability to reason rationally.
Perhaps some adjustments to our law enforcers responsibilities might not only be better for all by relieving officers from the responsibility of coping with such, though I don't profess to be an expert on such matters. Officers might even welcome a focus back on more traditional criminal activity. What do you think?