I work in architecture/construction/engineering. When we build in an unsafe manner, and structures collapse, people are held accountable and laws change. I was just lamenting with an engineer yesterday about how sad it is that we can't always see far ahead enough to prevent the next death. When a tower crane in Manhattan collapsed due to high winds last winter we put a moratorium on tower cranes city wide until we figured out what was going on and how to fix it. It is too bad that this is often what it takes, or that it takes a front page investigation into issues with site safety by the New York Times.
No one made excuses for the contractors who participated in this reprehensible culture. I worked at a firm which was dedicated to extracting the best deals from the city it could for construction on behalf of their client base. Even in an atmosphere where government could be, and was, perceived as the direct adversary there was still a tremendous respect for safety and human life and the government's role in protecting all of us. In fact, when catastrophes happen there are firms who perform analyses on the structural failures and develop groundbreaking new theories on building/engineering in the wake of such disasters. Many structural engineers desire MORE oversight and funding dedicated to making sure that everything is built and maintained to the highest standards. The majority within the field actively condemn and keep an eye on the minority who seek ways around safety standards, because at the end of the day, our own lives are at stake. In early 2016, it only took the loss of one more life for NYC to develop new laws on the maximum wind speed a tower crane should bear in such a city.
This longsighted, professional standard seems to be in short supply among the police. Many cops get extremely upset when anyone criticizes anyone for anything they do in their in their field. I have been called names by marines and police, ridiculed, and told my education was invalid because it came from a "liberal" college and I have no "real world" experience. I have ironically been told this by people who are younger than myself and who by any measurable manner actually have less professional experience in the "real world" than I do. One of the Marines who told me that is now dead, partially due to his total buy in to the uber-macho US Marine culture. It was that worldview which partially led him to get thrown off a motorcycle wasted, at 1 AM, going 100 mph.
Unfortunately, ignoring those problems or pushing them under the rug affects everyone, including law enforcement and our service men and women. This was tragically illustrated the other day when a White supremacist brutally ambushed and murdered two police officers days after he harassed African Americans with a confederate flag at a football game. There is a Trump sign in his front lawn. To be clear, the killer has no ties with police and everyone is on the same page that his behavior is reprehensible. However his behavior is partially enabled by a police culture which protects and even celebrates the hateful rhetoric he espouses and supports.
Here are some recent examples:
It is unprofessional and inappropriate for ANY professional to refuse to criticize or scrutinize those who make their field look bad. It is a disservice to their own profession and it has dire consequences in high risk fields such as engineering and law enforcement. The fact is that engineers drive on the roads they design, and police are protected off hours by the culture they help create and enforce on the job. While many of us are passionate about our fields, we still spend the majority of our time off the clock, in the society we are building.
When a culture is created among police that refuses to acknowledge racism exists in their own ranks, the result is that eventually, a police officer is killed by a racist. The failure to identify racism as a systemic problem by those who enforce the law inevitably bleeds out into the rest of society and our children who look up to the police as a standard of behavior. If we created this culture in MY field, so many more of us would die inside of the faulty homes we allowed to be built at our offices.
It's too bad that some in law enforcement mock the education that gave us that foresight instead of trying to attain it themselves. Perhaps in the wake of this incident, we can start having a discussion about how hate and racism in all forms, whether it be institutionalized or not, affects EVERY American. We cannot root out every racist, but we can make real efforts to root it out of our police force in honor of these men who have recently sacrificed their lives for our safety.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Supremacists and Klansmen don't just hate African Americans. They hate women, other minorities, and really, just about everyone with a deep burning passion. They are fueled by it. We ALL have a vested interest in rooting out racism whether it be institutional or not. It's time for the police to start helping us, instead of helping hide the problem. Their own lives are at stake.