by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier
In 2015, Seattle University had a panel discussion about race and policing. The panel featured conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and left-wing cultural critic Charles Mudede.
Shapiro stated that overzealous policing has a cost and a benefit. Unfortunately, the victims of overzealous policing bear the cost, but the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefit.
Mudede dismissed Shapiro’s cost-benefit analysis and stated right-wingers reject affirmative action out of fear of Black incompetency, but the incompetence of White police officers was never mentioned.
Mudede’s attempt to expose that double standard fell on deaf ears.
However, in 2017, Dr. Alfred S. Titus Jr., a retired New York police detective and law enforcement consultant, wrote, “Once again, [there is] a proposal to lower police hiring requirements in attempts to increase the candidate pool in cities that are suffering in the area of police recruitment. In the latest attempt to raise recruitment, some cities and police departments are considering accepting candidates with minor drug and criminal offenses to become police officers … The fact that this is being considered reveals to me that either this discussion does not include police or is being decided by persons who have no knowledge [of] what it means to wear the police uniform.”
Relaxing requirements for diversity when recruitment was at its peak and lowering standards to fill shortages are different issues and shouldn’t be conflated.
Recently, Glenn Loury, a Black conservative and podcast host, interviewed former Baltimore police officer and professor of criminal justice Peter Moskos about Tyre Nichols. Nichols was a Black man who was 29 years old. Five Black Memphis police officers beat him so badly that he died in the hospital a few days later.
Loury stated that a lot of people on “the right” are pointing out that standards were lowered to recruit more Black police officers. The poor tactics deployed by the five Black officers that were charged with Nichol’s murder revealed the consequences of these lowered standards. Loury added that he found that argument distasteful but asked Moskos if the argument had merit.
Moskos stated that the video footage of Nichols’ beating revealed police brutality combined with poor policing. He just wasn’t sure if lowered standards were a contributing factor and couldn’t state for a fact if the argument had merit.
But what did Loury find so distasteful?
The same thing Mudede tried to emphasize in 2015, which was poor policing by White officers, was never linked to incompetency. Now that five Black officers have made national headlines for police brutality, right-wing media outlets have headlines about incompetency and lowered standards.
One New York Post headline said: “Racism didn’t kill Tyre Nichols—moronic, poorly trained cops did.” The opinion writer took issue with CNN’s Van Jones, The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, and filmmaker Bree Newsome Bass, who all claimed that the five Black officers who beat Nichols were trained to be anti-Black and reflected a racist police culture. The opinion writer said these individuals were completely insane to attribute five Black men killing a Black man to racism.
Instead, the reader should draw the conclusion that the five Black police officers were incompetent morons.
Another New York Post opinion writer asked: Why does police professionalism in some enclaves keep regressing? Look no further than diversity, equity, and inclusion.
These arguments had no merit for Loury because of their racist undertones. However, it was hard not to get the impression that Loury didn’t want to dive deeper into this subject.
Apparently, Alvin Davis, the former lieutenant in charge of recruiting in Memphis, told the Associated Press that the Memphis Police Department lowered its hiring standards in an effort to keep staffing levels high. This led to underqualified and inexperienced officers throughout the department. According to the New York Daily News, “Memphis police reportedly asked for waivers to add candidates with criminal records and cut down on guidelines requiring an officer to have previous police experience, military service, or college credit.”
Davis said, “They would allow just pretty much anybody to be a police officer.”
No matter how distasteful the racial undertones further inquiry into the lowered standards has merit.