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Police – authoritarian or egalitarian?

The Editor,  The New York Times

New York, New York,  USA

January 08, 2015

Dear Editor:

When I moved to New Zealand in 1987 from Ohio I was struck by the comparatively relaxed street feeling in New Zealand where police carry no firearms.  While there have been continual calls from some quarters to arm officers on the beat, they have been resisted so far.  Police Commissioner Mike Bush recently said arming the police would change the police’s relationship with the public beyond repair.It is in that context that I view the recent reports from the USA of police killing unarmed black men, and there was something in the follow-up which took me by surprize.  Mayor De Blasio’s reasonable remarks about the need for police to equally respect all in the community have been met with a show of disrespect by the assembled police by turning their backs on him while he spoke.  While all decried the killing of two police officers, this police action was not about that.   The NYC’s largest police union said the mayor instead should have been encouraging parents to teach their children “to comply with police officers, even if they feel it’s unjust.” That comment displays an authoritarian mindset based on force which clashes with an egalitarian outlook based on justice. That authoritarian mindset is not all that far from fascism. I find that really scary.

Sincerely,

Richard Keller

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