Toxic culture in police departments must change

The ‘good old boys’ police network is the cancer that caused George Floyd’s death and many other incidents that should never have happened.

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Escorting George Floyd

This image from video shows Minneapolis Police Officers Thomas Lane, left and J. Alexander Kueng, right, escorting George Floyd, center, to a police vehicle in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020. A jury found the two and another former Minneapolis officer guilty on February 24 of violating the civil rights of George Floyd.

Court TV via AP, Pool, File

I read with interest everything about the trial of the Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights because they stood there and did nothing as a fellow officer, supposedly the senior officer, choked him.

It is heartless, and there is no excuse. All one of them had to do was turn around, see that the man looked lifeless and whisper to the officer, “Everyone has phones with cameras, they are recording everything. This guy looks bad, just put him in the squad.”

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The reason this happened is the “good old boys” police network. No matter what a cop does, even if it’s wrong, say it was right. That is the cancer that caused this and many other incidents that should never have happened.

Yes, stand together and back each other up. But be able to tell the chief if an officer is too brutal, or dirty, or on the edge of a breakdown and needs time off or counseling. Now you are a “rat” if you say anything, or looked on as weak if you need counseling.

It is 2022, time to face the facts. A lot of police officers would not put a gun to their head and commit suicide if they had someone to talk to. Admit it is a high-stress job. It can make you hard, and think everyone you deal with is a punk criminal when they are not.

Also, there are people who should not be a police officer. They have a too-quick temper or are prejudiced. Every police officer may need a break, time off, counseling or to have his performance evaluated from time to time.

This is a job that you cannot screw up on. Lives are on the line. You carry a gun, you have the power to kill, and you better be able to do this job or walk away.

Connie Orland, Plainfield

Low vaccination rate in CPS

I remember when the polio vaccine became mandatory for school children in the early 1960s: We lined up in the gym and got our shots right there. We didn’t like the needles but we were excited because we knew how serious polio could be, and wanted to be able to do “normal” things again, such as going to the swimming pool.

Why can’t we administer the COVID vaccine to Chicago school kids the same way? Within a few days, we could achieve a high enough vaccination rate to allow mask mandates to be loosened. Our children could smile at one another and interact “face-to-face” like normal human beings again.

David G. Whiteis, Humboldt Park

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