Simultaneously with five shooting incidents within a few hours in Bridgeport last week, two of them fatal, one of the wounded being a 13-year-old girl, the City Council agreed to consider the demand of local “social justice” protesters to defund the city’s police department. Three days later four more people were shot in Bridgeport. One was killed.
Crazy as Bridgeport can be, the council may have no intention of eliminating the police department. It may have been trying only to induce the protesters to stop camping out at police headquarters, where they had vowed to stay until the department dismissed an officer who three years ago fatally shot a teenage car thief.
The young thief, putting the car in reverse while trying to evade capture, had struck and dragged the officer with the open driver’s door. A prosecutor’s investigation not only justified the shooting but also detailed how the teen had been stealing many cars and had an intoxicating drug in his blood. Journalism found that the teen had been abandoned by his parents and had been living on the street.
So amid the City Council’s politeness it would have been nice if even one city official had found the courage to note the irony of blaming the police for the social disintegration the police are hired to protect the city against. Indeed, it would have been nice if even one state official had found similar courage.
For if Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, is too scared to stand against crime even when the shootings committed by its own residents against each other outnumber shootings by police officers by a thousand to one, such disintegration is sure to spread. Daily mayhem already is similar in Hartford and New Haven.
Yes, some police officers are racist but the big racism in Connecticut is not that of the police but that of state government as it fails to insist on order, or to maintain order itself, where there are large numbers of poor people of color.
While state officials proclaim that “Black lives matter,” the unaddressed mayhem in the cities proves every day that they’re lying.
IT’S NOT JUST POLICE UNIONS: In their racial clamor at least some people on the political left are starting to notice that police unions greatly impair accountability and usually defeat efforts to remove officers for misconduct. Some on the left are even calling for prohibiting police unions.
There is a good argument for that, since police departments are para-military organizations. Due process can be provided to officers in disciplinary cases without giving them appeals and arbitration, which allow police departments to shrug off misconduct.
But it may take centuries for Connecticut’s political left to understand fully its revelation about police unions. For what about collective bargaining in the rest of state and municipal government? What do the people who resent police misconduct think unions in the rest of government do?
It is no easier for a Connecticut school system to dismiss an incompetent teacher, especially since nearly all school administrators are unionized as well. The biggest problem with public education in Connecticut is that it really isn’t public at all.
Government employee unions exist to protect their members, not the public. They are by definition conspiracies against the public.
But government employee unions are maintained in Connecticut anyway because they have come to serve as the political army of the majority party in government, a one-sided form of public financing of political campaigns whose value far outweighs the value of the state’s formal program of public financing.
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Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, for which he was managing editor for decades. His columns appear in many Connecticut newspapers.