A systemic problem, not just a few rotten apples

logo Latest in a series of posts on the George Floyd killing logo

Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.


A good statement from Chief DiLuzio.

My only question is why it took nationwide rioting to prompt it, since police killing unarmed people — especially people of color — has been going on for years*. Most police officers are good people who would never commit acts such as the murder of George Floyd. At the same time, the ongoing violence makes clear that it is more than a case of a few “rotten apples”; it’s a pervasive, systemic problem that raises many questions.

Here are a few of the questions I see:

Why do police agencies tolerate such rotten apples instead of rooting them out and firing them? (The officer who killed Floyd had 17 or more previous complaints about use of violence and excessive force.)

Why is it common practice for police to close ranks and protect officers who commit such offenses?

What does “law enforcement officer” even mean when more than just a few police officers commit crimes ranging from theft to assault to murder?

Why haven’t police been leading the charge to demand that police officers who commit crimes be charged as criminals and prosecuted?

Why do police, as a group, have a higher rate of domestic violence and spousal abuse than almost any other demographic?

Why are there more black and minority drug arrests than white, even though drug crime is much known to be higher among whites?

Is it any wonder that people in many big cities see police as more of a danger than a solution?

* Last year, police killed about 1100 people, many of whom were unarmed and innocent of any crime. Available statistics indicate that police shoot in the US and kill an average of about 2 Black people every week.


to be continued . . .

2 thoughts on “A systemic problem, not just a few rotten apples

  1. I should have made clear that this is not directed at the situation here in Bethlehem but at policing throughout the US; I think Breena raised appropriate questions specific to Bethlehem.

    I’d also like to ask Chief DiLuzio why police officers should need training to know that violent assault (and murder) are not acceptable. Would lack of training be an acceptable defense when a citizen is charged with homicide?

  2. Just saw this in a message from Zinn Education Project which is loaded with free social-justice resources for teachers:

    ‘Many people have referenced the 1960s, have referenced Ferguson in 2014, but I think it’s important to say that these are not just repeats of past events. These are the consequences of the failures of this government and the political establishment, the economic establishment of this country to resolve those crises, and so they build and accumulate over time. And we are watching the boiling over of that.’
    —- Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor of African American Studies, Princeton

Leave a Reply