Let’s Reform The Police
There has been lots of talk lately about reforming the police. This is not a new conversation. It just happens to be that we are talking about it again. I predict there will be more publicized dialogue on this as we move through the next couple of weeks and months. Our continual revisiting of this discussion evidences a hopeful progression, an unhealthy obsession, or perhaps a point on the spectrum somewhere in between. I submit to you I am in the “hopeful progression” camp. You should be as well as I think it is possible.
As I say, police reform is not new. Training has been instituted, policies have been put in place, and laws have been enacted to better shape modern law enforcement. There have been some positive gains, but I really do not believe we as a culture are seeing the result we want. It may be time for a new approach.
There are several avenues I would explore, but for the greatest payoff I think it would be most efficient to look at how we teach Biblical virtue and character. Biblical virtue has changed the world for the good wherever it has been found. We look for it in family, friends, and strangers. I cannot think of a circumstance where our preference would be to not see it in those we work or do business with. Biblical virtues are timeless, transformative, and totally free.
This, I realize, is where things get thorny, as it can be difficult to talk about Biblical virtue without talking about where those virtues are anchored (the Bible). But this should not be difficult. I am almost positive I can talk about desirable qualities without citing Scripture.
Let us give it a run, shall we? We need some foundational goals for our police, so here we go: for starters I would like to see modern-day police officers become more loving and exhibit a demeanor of joyfulness. Does that sound good to you? While we are at it, I would like to see officers who are peaceful and patient with the public and known for their kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. Lastly, we need officers who can artfully de-escalate tense situations by their mastery of gentleness and personal self-control.
“WAIT A MINUTE!” you say, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? You said you wouldn’t cite Scripture! That’s just Galatians, chapter 5!”
Fair enough. I am glad to see you recognized Paul’s letter to the Galatians, but you are right—I did say no citing of Scripture. We are not at a point where we in our world are ready to receive Scripture, much less teach it freely. Let me try again.
OK, here we go. I do not think anyone would deny that if we have to call the police, we would want that police officer to be the type of person who recognizes his or her own moral failings, hungers for the excellence of others, is passionate about justice, knows where they lack in virtue and are thereby merciful in dealings with others, are skilled in reconciling broken relationships…
“WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!” “Not so fast!” you exclaim. “Those are the Beatitudes from Matthew chapter 5!”
You are correct about that (and really good at recognizing Scripture! Well done!).
All right, no Scripture. We have worked hard to keep Scripture out of our classrooms and professional disciplines and we do not want to advance Biblical virtue or truths no matter how appealing they may be. We can do this. We need only to ask, “What do we want to see in our law enforcement?” I think the answer is simple: we want an officer who would not steal, would not bear false witness, would honor both mother and father, …
“Those are from the 10 Commandments.”
We reassess. Do you want to reform the police? We can keep coming up with funding and training, which is both helpful and necessary, but if we depart from Biblical virtues and principles what will this ultimately accomplish? It seems to me someone concerned about police reform would be someone who is ardent about fighting for religious liberty.
I will ask again, do you want real police reform? I do, but why stop with the police? Why not reform the entirety of the law and judicial system? Let’s add reforming collegiate education. Let’s add non-collegiate education. And while we are at it we can reform the medical community, the trades, technology communities, and the banking and financial industry. There is no limit.
And we can do it all by fighting for freedom of religion.
Rick Laib is the Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District in Illinois. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org