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Officer of no color

Editor's Note: You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. The President is now backpedaling from his woefully uninformed comments made about a fine officer from Massachusetts. Calling Sergeant James Crowley on the phone and saying to the press that Crowley is "a fine man" rings hollow today because of the knee-jerk reaction we heard on Wednesday. Police work is infinitely more complex than a 10-second sound-bite, and the President's comments are just the most recent, most visible evidence that a lack of understanding about law enforcement permeates our society. I and my team here at PoliceOne hope that something good can come of this mess. We hope that some number of the public take this opportunity to at least try to understand the complexity of police work, and appreciate the fine service performed by American Law Enforcement every day.


— Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Senior Editor 


Every “Officer of no color” has been there. You’ve stopped a car at night for a violation. The windows are tinted to obscure the identity of the driver and when the contact is made it is learned that the person driving is a person of color. The yelling, the invectives, and the charges of racism begin immediately.

The officer will tell the driver the reason for the stop and even try at times to explain that the windows are tinted and jokingly point out a kangaroo could have been driving and you would not have been able to tell, but it is to no avail.

In the eyes of the driver he has judged the officer to be a racist even though the officer’s intentions were pure. The officer made the stop for the offense of the driver not the color of the driver.

You see, there are many officers out there who are “Officers of no color.”

These officers enforce the law fairly and impartially and they pride themselves on doing so. They are White American Police Officers, African American Police Officers, Native American Police Officers, Asian American Police Officers, and Hispanic American Police Officers. They are simply American Police Officers.

They are professionals and exhibit fairness in the way they police.

The police professionals realize that criminals come in all colors and therefore to use color as an indicator would not only be unfair, but it would also hamper them in their efficiency. They aggressively pursue the criminal and arrest for the offense.

“Officers of no color” pride themselves on trying to police with a sense of fairness, but they face bigotry every day. They are treated rudely, prejudged, and even physically attacked because of their color -- not the color of their skin, but the color of their uniform.

Every “Officer of no color,” has had to bear the burden of ugly words. Every “Officer of no color,” has been called “stupid” or “racist” or much worse by people they protect and serve.

But what happens when the people who say these things about you are a “respected” college professor and his friend, the President of the United States? The words must strike like blows from Thor’s hammer.

These things were said about a widely respected police sergeant, who has spent his career as a role model, trying to set an example as an “officer of no color.” He has taught other officers that they must pursue the criminal for the crime and not the color of their skin.

The President and the professor judged the noble heart of this officer by the color of his uniform. Considering the dizzying height from which this uninformed judgment came, it must have hurt the sergeant deeply.

The Sergeant will most certainly survive this verbal assault with the support of his family, his department, his community and his fellow officers. The Sergeant-trainer now has a real life example to share with his academy students about the ugly face of prejudice.

Sadly, the faces on the power point slide will belong to a president and a professor.

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