You probably saw Yoni’s note from Sunday featuring the iconic image of a female African American protester approached by two cops in heavy armor. Yoni gave the go-ahead to include the following reader dissent for this Notes series on excessive force. Here’s Loretta:
What law abiding people see in that photo is a protestor who had been warned repeatedly not to go onto the streets and block traffic on a highway. This is what is wrong with our society today: when people feel they are above the law and do not have to listen to our men and women in blue. These police are the ones who are putting their own lives on the line to protect these people and their right to protest. But they still have to maintain civility and control in an environment where within a blink of an eye it could be lost.
And, your statement about their uniforms: After Dallas, what do you want them to wear? If it was your father, brother, sister or friend would you not want them to be protected? There are black, white, brown, and yellow policemen out there. One is my son-in-law.
But another reader, Simon, sees the extra police gear as doing more harm than good—even to the cops themselves, in the long run:
I have to take issue with some people thinking that tactical units in Baton Rouge are prudent “after Dallas.” What is the problem and what are they solving?
While an average cop’s body armor is good only against pistols, and a tactical unit might be protected against rifles, that doesn’t entirely protect the police. A sniper can always use a bigger gun [or a bomb]. (It is legal, for instance, to own 50 cal sniper rifles, which can penetrate an engine block and will defeat pretty much any body armor.) More likely, a sniper or terrorist will attack a softer target. So a tactical unit is useful in a specific situation, but it’s counterproductive in lots of other situations.
This gets us to the bigger picture.