Barbara,
Carl Tennenbaum
31

Carl — I appreciate your taking time to write such a generous, considered response. From my heart, I hope you are seriously considering a consulting practice “training the trainers” for police forces all over the US. I will gladly put my 25+ years of recruiting experience to work to support marketing THAT mission.

We would all be best served by people like you, who are willing to not only advocate for those in the field doing great work every day, but to acknowledge and hold accountable those who violate authority — and too often, the laws they’re sworn to uphold.

I reached the age of reason as the civil rights and anti-war protests reached their apex; when body counts were part of the evening news and beloved advocates seemed to drop like flies.

It was terrifying then, but it is so much more so now. In 1968 no one had anywhere NEAR the lethal firepower now available to even local police and anyone with (or — let’s face it — without) a gun permit.

This isn’t just about the police. It isn’t just about “bad guys” — we live in a violence-tolerant culture. Logically, people who gravitate toward careers where they’ll be armed tend toward violence by definition; violence-averse people aren’t likely to choose an occupation that requires them to be armed and trained to shoot people.

I have personally heard off-duty police officers in various states brag about their “exploits” on the job among themselves, and they didn’t care that I heard what they joked about, even though it was unimaginably offensive and even frightening to me, as a woman. It was as if they saw nothing wrong with “blowing off a little steam,” even when it meant abusing their authority by intimidation.

I realized in my 20s that abuse of authority is casually accepted and widespread in the police and military because it is culturally accepted. It is NOT circumstantial; it is not a new phenomenon. Everyone knows it on some level; obviously some more than others.

People might be ignorant of certain things, but generally are aware that power corrupts — it’s why people like you are so vital to the path forward. You demonstrate by your choices and actions that there is another way. It is not only possible but precisely what our country needs now: People who know how to hold authority lightly will achieve far MORE effective results than brutality ever could.

Thank you again for your willingness to engage and be honest. | bja

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