My brother Andrew graduated from the Philadelphia Police
Academy yesterday. Ruth and I drove down from Boston to see
the ceremony. We're both very proud of him and hope that he's
found his calling in life, stays safe, and protects and
serves the community to the best of his ability.
Mostly, the presenters/officials talked about
graduates faced almost-certain death and how 2/3 of them
sent to Philadelphia's worst neighborhood. About how some
officers recently got mangled underneath a car. And how
they'd be understaffed and probably wouldn't have
backup when they needed it most. Or if they did, it would be
at the expense of protecting another neighborhood. It really
reminded me of RoboCop.
There was a
local college representative present, urging the graduates to
continue their education so that they could "ride a desk"
instead of being killed in the line of duty.
Perhaps it's a realistic assessment of what
young men and women. And maybe it's what the graduates
needed to hear. I know that I couldn't do the job. But I
didn't find the speeches particularly upbeat (eg.
"Congratulations. You're starting a new fulfilling career in
serving the public."). They were more somber - perhaps even
morose. If I were in my brother's shoes, I probably would've
crapped myself, gotten up, and left. But then there's a good
reason that I didn't apply to be on the force and I'm glad
that people like my brother have the courage to do those
jobs that I can't do. We owe them a debt of gratitude and
the highest respect for putting their lives on the line each
and every day they don a uniform.
What follows is a post-game recap of the day's
double-speak, hypocrisy, and pandering. At the end of the
wanted to laugh, cry, and vomit. It is in no way is a
condemnation of the
police, the very important jobs that they do, or the day's
graduates. Instead, it should be read as a criticism of the
city's leadership and perhaps their speech writers'
collective ignorance and ineptitude.
"I've been all around the country and around the
the only place our police department doesn't get the respect
it deserves is in Philadelphia itself." <thunderous
(30 seconds pass)
"There's no place in the world that respects and
its police force as much as we do in Philadelphia."
"No one here today is here because of nepotism,
favors, or because they have family on the force. They've
all made it here on their own merits." <deafening
This comes from the man who is the
other things, he put his brother in charge of Philadelphia's
international airport, and has tried to anoint his brother
as Philadelphia's next mayor. Neither worked out too well.
(30 seconds pass)
"Will everyone graduating who has a family
member in the
force, please raise your hand?" [75% raise their hand]
(30 seconds pass)
"We have in our audience the previous chief of
grandson is graduating today." <applause>
(5 minutes pass)
"Everyone on this stage today (i.e. the heads of the police
been promoted or appointed by John
Street. Let's give him a hand." <applause> Err, what's
that about political nepotism? Bueller? Bueller?
"Everyone who has lived in this city all
your hands." (90% of the grads raise their hands) "That's
how it ought to be. People who run this city should have
lived and devoted their whole lives to this city."
true. And certainly the mayor is a self-made man who worked
tirelessly to get to where he's at today. He's served the
city as a lawyer, teacher, city counselor, and mayor for
most of his life. But I had
to chuckle thinking that those words came from a black man
who was born and raised in one of Philly's
well-off, predominantly white, Montgomery County suburbs.
Attorney Lynn Abraham:
"You must uphold the Constitution. And
are cameras everywhere watching your every move. You must
serve the public and hold yourself to the highest standards."
This, coming from the district attorney who
a man for photographing police during a drug-related
arrest while on his own property. What's that about
cameras, standards, and the
"You must remember that as police officers,
and must hold yourselves to higher standards."
(1 minute later)
"Neighborhoods are outraged that [the police
shot and killed 20 people last year,
pulled weapons on officers. But where was the outrage when
drug dealers killed a little girl walking down the street
with school books in her hands?"
Ignoring for the moment that the community was
the latter crime, who are the community's citizens to hold
the police to higher standards?