Due to recent events involving alleged excessive force, there have been issues among police officers and members of the Cleveland community. Last Wednesday, April 22, the Society of Professional Journalists hosted a panel of individuals from a variety of careers who assembled at John Carroll University to discuss the issues of police brutality. The public safety director, Mike McGrath, was invited to participate in the discussion, but was asked not to attend by the mayor of Cleveland because of the sensitive negotiations that are currently occurring.
The meeting that took place on campus was titled the “Police Force and the Media.” Its purpose was to bring individuals from the community together for a discussion of a significant issue, and explain the blurred lines of media coverage in regards to police intervention. The panelists sought to assure the audience categorizing police officers as racially biased and corrupt comes from a very small number of people. The panel rightfully defended the police as a whole numerous times, despite the absence of a police spokesperson.
The Carroll News understands the mayor’s decision in telling police officers not to publically speak on the current issues, although the silence of the officers makes it more difficult for local citizens to understand their points of view. Because police brutality is a sensitive subject, there are times when individuals categorize the police department as racially biased and corrupt. By defending the police department’s reputation, the panel helped break down certain generalizations, while recognizing true racial injustices have taken place.
Police officers are here to protect, and although there are times when they may be in the wrong, not all officers should be labeled as careless or by any other negative titles. As the process of the Consent Degree continues, it is hopeful that the Cleveland Division of Police will be able to partake in community discussions. The panelists at JCU are moving in the right direction.