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Teachers and Police

Teachers and Police

It's been an ugly few days but perhaps in some ways a hopeful few as people have been making their voices heard like never before in my lifetime. We've seen and endless stream of videos of peaceful protest and far too many instances of police officers overstepping their bounds. I keep hearing about violent protesters but those videos seem to be avoiding my feeds as are the videos of law enforcement going after the looters who are a separate group from the protestors.

I'm not comfortable getting on a soapbox about race relations in this country. I want and strive to be an ally but I think my place is to listen and support not dictate.

Even so, we keep hearing about police accountability on one side that they need their protections on the other. I thought I'd look at that and compare the job of a police officer to that of a teacher.

My experience

On the one side, I've been a teacher for close to 30 years. On the police side? I've never been a cop but I was an auxiliary cop for a while. I stopped soon after I went in to teaching. I was able to do it while on Wall Street but teaching is just so much harder and more draining that I didn't have the energy. As an auxiliary cop I got a bit of an inside view. I didn't patrol the bad parts of the precinct much - Manhattan Valley, but I did a bit. I also got to interact with the police and was listening to police radio during my tours so knew what was or wasn't going on.

Key Requirements

Police

Sixty college credits or military experience, pass a written and physical test, psychological test and then the Police Academy.

Teachers

Masters degree, standardized tests, student teaching although the quality ranges from rigorous preparation to fly by night TFA nonsense.

Perceptions

Police

On the one side you have police as heroes. This is probably to an extend residual from 9/11 grouping them in with firefighters and EMT. You'll also hear that they face death every day and if there weren't protections like qualified immunity you'd never have anyone sign up for the job. We also keep hearing that the "majority are good cops" and "only a few bad apples."

On the other side, ACAB.

Teachers

On the one hand you'll hear we're the backbone of society and should be paid more.

On the other, we're glorified babysitters who do nothing for pay and pension.

Reality

This post isn't really about teaching so I'm not going to dwell on that side other than as a comparison but education going remote has, if nothing else, proven that teachers are anything but lazy goodfornothings.

On the police side, video evidence shows that a few bad apples do indeed spoil the bunch and when both police commissioners and police union chiefs and even mayors repeatedly lie, distort and omit you know we need some real changes. I keep hearing about the police needing to maintain order and acting reasonably but with all those body cameras plus police officers specifically at protests to film and document I haven't seen anything backing the police line.

As to the police facing death every day? Yes, there's always the possibility of a bad encounter but in my time with the auxiliary I can't ever remember hearing a call for "officer needs assistance" nor vary many intense situations. Most of the job was being in the community. In fact, it turns out that most police officers go through their entire careers never firing their weapon.

At the same time, teachers in many schools face violence or the threat of violence and are under no circumstances allowed to even touch a student. We are supposed to deescalate. Is there a reason why police can't do the same?

On reform

Some people are calling for more training but I'm not one of them. I've had corprorate, teacher, and city training. It's all CYA garbage. It doesn't change behavior. Eric Garner was choked in 2014. Chokeholds were banned by the NYPD in, I think around 1993 and you can bet that was in the "training" officers received. Training reminds good people how to act. Training helps give you a tool if you're inclined to use it. Hire a thug and no training is going to make them an angel.

I'm more on the defund side but that doesn't just mean cut the budget. Here are a few things I'd like to see:

  • Beat cops - this is something that David Dinkins did with Commissioner Brown and they never get credit. They took the cop out of the car and put them on the beat. On foot. Make them part of the community they're policing. Once they went back into the cars they were out of the communities.

  • Better accountability - when the next contract comes around we need our politicians to take a hard line on accountability. Things like community review boards, penalties for turned off cameras, transparent records on police misconduct.

  • Make police accountable for bad behavior - while police need due process, in the rare times there's any accountability it's usually in terms of a payout to the public. This doesn't affect the police because it's paid by the taxpayer. Let's change that. The city contributes to police pensions. Let's reduce that as needed to pay for settlements. If not, how about start with the police salary scale and adjust it annually to pay for settlements. Make those responsible feel it.

The sad thing is that unless the protests continue there might not be change. I fear that we'll get a few speeches and some surface changes when we need fundamental change. The solutions aren't hard but we need people in power who will actually implement them. de Blasio came to office claiming to be a progressive but he caved to the police force at the first signs of resistance. We need to put up candidate who will actually represent the people and make changes and then we actually have to get out and vote them in.

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