POLICE REFORM: A MATTER OF JUSTICE

PRESS RELEASE (June 16, 2021)

Official Statement Of The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement Approved by Unanimous Vote of the General Members June 8, 2021

Today, American policing finds itself in turmoil, seemingly assailed from every side. For many who decry social injustice, the police have become a prominent focus of disdain. Some have called for the dismantling of the police, while others hesitate to go that far. Understanding the nature of this outrage, and how society should address it is vital to the sustainability of our society.

The philosopher Aristotle defined Justice as “each part of society doing what it is supposed to for the rest.” In essence, Aristotle suggests that society is a network of interlocking expectations. Police hold a prominent position in society, and as such they are subject to varied and sometimes competing expectations from many diverse segments, which if not fulfilled, often lead to resentment and ultimately hostility toward them. During the past fifty years, these expectations have expanded exponentially, while the police themselves have remained rooted in an institutional mindset that has not kept pace.

Contemporary American society expects a high level of professionalism from its police officers. The failure of the service to meet this expectation is the primary source of the frustration that has been engendered toward them. Society across the board expects police officers to be just, effective, competent, courageous and compassionate in the way they deliver service, a tall order. What Americans must come to realize, is that in order to fulfill such expectations, police officers must be carefully selected, intensely trained, professionally led and fairly disciplined. This requires deep professional commitment, political will and financial investment, all of which have been less than forthcoming.

A significant public debate over the police is currently underway. Some would deny the resources necessary to bring about change. Others are dismissive of the police as a social institution. Still others resist relinquishing the political control, that would facilitate their professional independence. Yet, one thing is clear, a free society can only exist where rule of law prevails, and professional policing is an indispensable factor in that equation. American history is the story of the struggle toward the ideal of a society offering liberty and justice for all. This defines American justice. The American people, public policy makers and the police themselves must recognize the need for meaningful police reform and they must commit to it.

Dennis Galvin

President

“ The Law Will Never Be Respected Until Those Who Enforce It Are.”

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