Finding police officer recruits in the post-George Floyd era can be tricky. In "Cities are looking for a different kind of cop" (June 12), we're told police departments are looking for cops who use their brain rather than their brawn.
I take offense at this a bit, since I was hired as a cop way back in the pre-Floyd era, when police departments favored candidates who had four-year college degrees and kept themselves in decent physical condition. We were expected to harbor a pro-diversity attitude, as we would be working with officers and recruits from various backgrounds.
Any recruit who had issues with diversity would be weaned out, either in the skills class at the police academy, through the mandatory psych exam or during the first probationary year on the job.
Atlanta police chief Rodney Bryant is quoted in the story saying, "Days of old you wanted someone who actually had the strength to be more physical. Today's police officers, that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for someone who can actually relate to the community but also think like the community thinks."
This statement is ridiculous and insulting to any officer who worked in the pre-Floyd era. So, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds I should assume I was hired for my exceptional brawn? And what about those four years of college, and the graduate degree I subsequently added? Was all this training so that I could physically abuse residents of a community I could not relate to?
Unfortunately, police departments can't be quite as choosy in the post-Floyd era as they were pre-Floyd. The Floyd tragedy and the subsequent disparagement of police officers in general has diminished the pool of candidates to numbers unheard of in the past.
And who of the Black community is being encouraged to become a police officer? One can't really say, "The police are all racist brutes," and then add, "By the way, you should become a police officer."
As for the insulting "brawn" comment: For officers, being in good physical condition can make the difference between life and death. Whether one wants to think about it or not, violent people live among us, people who will not submit to a lawful arrest. A police officer who attempts to arrest such a person is going to end up rolling on the ground with him, and for the officer's sake, he'd better be brawny enough to get handcuffs on the suspect.
That remains part of the job, and will at least until police departments are abolished.
Looking for candidates who can relate to the community is something police departments have been doing since the Robert ("Bobbie") Peel days of the 1800s. They have been improving ever since. The Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd does not convict all officers nationally or locally of racism or brutality. Those actions are Derek Chauvin's to own.
Richard Greelis is a retired police officer.