Friday, July 24, 2009

Racial Profiling or Poor Communication?


If you just read the headlines, or even the mainstream media coverage about the "white" police officer and his arrest of a "black" Harvard professor after a report of a break-in at the professor's home, you could easily pick a "side," based on your life experiences.

I've been on all 3 sides of this issue. I was a county police officer years ago, a journalist for 35 years and a crisis communication consultant for nearly 20 years. I'm beginning to doubt racial profiling was the issue, unless it was "racial profiling in reverse".

HOWEVER, being tired, perhaps ill, and angry fed one side of the confrontation. Trying to do a thorough job, and perhaps not explaining clearly the steps the officer was taking and why, combined with an all too often exagerated sense of "power" that some police officers have, aggravated the other side of the issue.

If I were in a position to help, I would try very hard to get the officer and his Chief to meet with the Professor and one of his trusted advisors, with the goal of letting the officer properly explain why it was necessary to have the "homeowner" step outside, and then search the home...for the protection of the resident of the house.

I've been in that position. Hopefully I explained what I was doing and why, better than this officer was able to do.

There was the possiblity that someone was hiding in the house, threatening the resident or perhaps even holding a family member hostage. You would not want the officer to respond to a break-in call, then walk away immediately, if someone had just broken in and was somewhere in the house waiting to do you harm.

Both sides need to calm down, quit fueling the controversy with indignant demands for apologies, and quietly talk about what happened, then kiss and make up!

No comments:

Post a Comment