Straight Talk: Good cop, bad cop debate divides friends

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: My friend, 17, is very cold with me now that he’s involved in the protests against police brutality. My dad and uncle are both police officers. While I feel terrible for the accidents that have happened, I can’t agree that all police are bad. Any ideas for getting our friendship back? - “D,” 17, Northern California

Justin, 17, Brentwood: If their work is fair and lawful, introduce him to your dad and uncle so he can meet good officers. He knows he can’t justify saying ALL police offers are bad, but he also should be free to say not all are good, because there’s evidence everywhere of this.

Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: Both sides have awful eggs. The attempt to get the officer’s weapon justifies the Michael Brown shooting regardless of race. Watch the Eric Garner video, and you just see a large, scared, confused man fighting for his life. Twenty-three years after the Rodney King riots, the media again hovers over a few testosterone-fueled police in riot gear and a small group of rioting African-Americans. How SAD for all the great cops and great African-Americans! My girlfriend gets troubled over strong, controversial opinions, too. I ask her to think hard about whether their opinion is towards her (generally, it’s not). Don’t dump your friend over his personal bias if it’s not about you.

Icis, 16, Detroit, Mich.: This issue has stirred a great divide. Riots, boycotts and murders have resulted, mostly from minds so blinded by a piece of a story . A round-table discussion with your relatives and friend would be an excellent solution.

Colin, 21, Sacramento: A cop’s job is nasty, scary - and violent. They deal daily with troublesome societal members most people would rather avoid. Their high exposure to violence is what makes some cops exhibit unnecessary violence themselves. Anyone who’s seen the Eric Garner video or searched “cop beats grandma” on YouTube knows what I’m talking about.

The dirty truth, though, is that cops are being put in very dangerous situations by their “superiors.” Wealth inequality has given the rich “ownership” of almost everything, including police (witness the increasing militarization of police departments in response to and for controlling increasing civilian poverty and desperation). Increasingly-strapped municipalities use police ticket quotas to make up budget shortfalls - giving NYPD’s refusal to issue minor-offense tickets to ease public hostility toward police a real bite to it. (See Rolling Stone, Dec. 31, on this.)

It has also helped lift the veil. Basically, being “against” police blinds us to the larger problem: the elite’s power grab, which cares for neither police NOR civilians. Regarding your friend, just show him kindness. I disagree plenty with my friends. You don’t need to change his mind about anything, nor he yours.

Matt, 19, Mission Viejo: I’ve been very involved in the police brutality debate following the Michael Brown and Eric Garner verdicts. There is police brutality. Some officers are definitely out of line. However, the majority are not and it’s unfair to negatively stereotype all police. The media pushes sensationalism and many of my friends have fallen prey. Your friend should support good officers WHILE fighting corruption.

DEAR “D”: I hope the thoughts and advice of the “good cop” panel have been helpful. Readers: Wow! Need productive insight on a national topic? Ask the panel. - Lauren

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