Couched amongst eye-glazingly standard matters of course in the Hancock County Commissioners’ June 16 meeting agenda was one request for approval to purchase additional “firearms and equipment” for Hancock County police and another request for approval of additional “riot gear.” The timing of these officially distinct but ideologically tangled requests is not lost on us. During global protests that are shining an uncomely fluorescent light on the realities of systemic oppression and racism, there have been a dystopian number of violent acts committed by the very uniformed people who are supposed to protect us from violence, i.e. the last thing local police (or any police) need is more weapons.
In Hancock County, we have a more closely proportional officer-to-civilian ratio than many other places. If Hancock County police are concerned about community unrest, they should consider this fact and their attendant ability to speak directly with community members. In one successful example of such conduct, “Members of Defund NPD gave emotional speeches and told personal stories during a Zoom meeting about racism within police departments.” After that meeting, several officials agreed it was “time to comprehensively examine the department with respect to hiring, training, reviewing procedures and emphasizing transparency.” If their preferred destination is justice and equality, open communication will get the police much further than guns and riot gear ever will.
This writer hopes that the local police will heed this advice rather than continuing to desperately cling to an operating system that is long overdue for an update.
Jack D. James