Wants community policing

Community policing: friendly, generally nonthreatening cops we get to know, who look out for all of us and protect us; yet who respect the rights of the accused; whose loyalties lie with society and law, and not with the “brothers in blue.” Officers should be visible and identifiable, and not intimidating.

I confess a perverse admiration for the potent stinging black and white design of Idaho State police cars. But “black and white” at best represents old-fashioned, knocking-heads policing, and at worst, the racial injustice so apparent today.

Want community policing? Demilitarization is not enough. The police must be emasculated as well — easily accomplished with a simple change in color for uniforms and cars. Checkerboard bright blue and yellow cars and uniforms (as used by the British) will do both. Imagine the sudden humility of the Moscow police officer, today strutting in matte black, forced to don the yellow and blue. One can feel almost sympathetic. Add a visible number patch (again as the British) and the officer is identifiable as well.

By the way, what’s with the stealth dark gray and black Latah County cruisers. Why is the Sheriff hiding his deputies?

Gary Peterson


Older Americans Month

May was Older Americans Month. The focus of Older Americans Month is normally the contribution seniors have made and continue to make to our communities and the needs of older American’s going forward.

I represent Whitman County on Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington’s board and represent the counties in Washington state on the Washington State Council on Aging. We hear a lot about the capabilities and the needs of seniors.

However, I believe right now the biggest challenge seniors face isn’t some bill going through Congress or law being written in Olympia. Their biggest challenge is long-term isolation because of COVID-19. I know many grandparents are essentially isolated at home because COVID-19 is a serious threat to their health. They can’t take the risk of getting it. These same people would otherwise be out and about their communities, going to farm auctions, visiting neighbors and showing up at regular get togethers. Each of us has the opportunity to help them now. We can call, write or email them. Calling is best because it is interactive, but if you only have time to write, that’s good too. My neighbor and mentor, Earl Swift, passed away a few years ago. Earl wrote letters to lots of people throughout his life. Getting a letter from Earl was special. He uplifted people and wrote about the good things they had done or how well their kids were growing up. His letters brought light and joy to your life. You have the opportunity to do something special for seniors stuck at home during this time. Call, write or email. It is definitely worth your time.

Art Swannack

Whitman County commissioner


Numbers, logic are faulty

Joe Long’s June 9 letter to the editor cites a statistic pulled from the Washington Post database which has been tracking fatal shootings by police officers in the line of duty for more than four years. Fatal shootings mind you, not deaths by any other manner. The statistic would not include George Floyd or Eric Garner or who knows how many others. The thrust of Mr. Long’s letter seems to be that “out of a population of 330 million, 28 deaths, while debatably tragic, is hardly systemic.” He rightly concludes that “the lives and the livelihoods of the innocent matter most.”

Nothing incongruous about those two statements, right? But let’s put aside whether or not 28 shooting deaths, homicides committed by those entrusted to preventing them when possible, are “debatably” tragic. Let’s put aside the narrowing of the definition of “systemic” to whether or not the police killed you while you posed no armed threat to them. Let’s just do a little quick math.

Mr. Long’s citations include the additional statistic that 19 of those 28 fatal shootings were of white people, nine of them of black. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as of 2019, 76.5 percent of the population is white, 13.5 percent black. I guess we’re forced to assume that there were no victims among the other 10 percent.

What is 13.5 percent of 28? That would be 3.78. Call it four. Not nine. I have no idea what was going through Mr. Long’s mind when he included that breakdown in his text but for those of you who think those numbers, 19 and nine, are somehow supportive of the view that the scales of justice are not all that imbalanced, well, in the immortal (paraphrased) words of Inigo Montoya, I do not think those numbers mean what you think they mean.

Curt Parsons


The stats were corrected

Dale Courtney writes “systemic police brutality toward minorities across America is a myth,” and follows with statistics claiming white officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than nonwhite officers (bit.ly/2Ylb6DU). He is wrong. The article he cites was corrected and its claims invalidated soon after publication — corrections published later tell us young unarmed male victims of fatal police force are 13 times more likely to be black than white, and there are many other published reports of the disproportionate use of police force on black residents in police departments across the country (start with the Ferguson Report by the U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).

Even if Courtney’s stats were correct, increasing diversity in the police force does not necessarily reduce racial disparities in police treatment, and activists and experts have called for change in how we train officers (as community protectors, not warriors ready to kill) because that is what seems to work.

Courtney is confusing prejudice (a preconceived opinion held by an individual or group) with racism (a system of advantage based on race), which is certainly alive and well in our country. Whites can benefit from many advantages of a racist society while not embracing overtly prejudicial thinking; it is not useful to say there are a few prejudiced individuals or “a bully is simply a bully” (as Courtney does) and refuse to recognize racial bias in policing and other parts of our society.

Similarly, Courtney and many in the media focus on the small percentage of citizens involved in riots instead of the thousands protesting peacefully for racial equality and justice, and use their behavior to try to invalidate protesters’ demands. Instead, let’s keep our eyes on the prize and never stop the work of anti-racism.

Jodi McClory


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