The news: Two police officers were shot to death by a black man claiming it was in retaliation for the police murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This is a tragedy clear and simple and my heart goes out to the families of the two police officers.  However it is not the media nor President Obama nor the mayor of New York that is to blame as the Police Benevolent Society official and probably many police officers claim. It is the fault of one insane man who wanted to go out by making a splash.  The issue of police over-reaction and brutality must not be subsumed by this tragedy. The right to protest nor any media coverage of it should not be affected no matter how conservatives will spin it. Last summer two whites killed police officers in Las Vegas, but there was no thought that all whites should be looked on suspiciously as a result.  There should be no police, media or public reaction that this incident proves black males are inherently violent. Put another way  if a white cop killing a black man does not prove that cops are violent, then a black man killing a cop doesn’t prove that blacks are inherently violent. Unfortunately that is the lesson some folks will take from this.   In political debate people too often take whatever happens as confirmation for whatever political or social prejudice one has. Some police and some whites will take this as proof of the inherent violence of the communities that people of color inhabit and will try to use it to justify a continuation of heavy handed tactics. They should realize that it is these heavy handed tactics that are contributing to their danger instead of blaming the mayor, the president, protesters, and anyone else that calls them on it. The community support that would have warned them that such a gunman was stalking them must be painstakingly built for policeman’s own safety as well as the community.

Those who blame the media or the politicians have learned nothing and they will not become safer through this reaction. Increased safety should be their goal. Avoiding the things that lead to a rupture with their communities rather than fighting publicity and reaction to police behavior, is the way out of this quagmire.  Doing what they have been doing will not make them safer. What the protesters and critics are doing is pointing the way to safer policing for both the police and the community by showing them the behavior that is counter productive. If they will listen rather than reacting with knee-jerk defensiveness they will become safer in an inherently dangerous job. The real tragedy is if we do not learn from this senseless act.  Then the sacrifice of these two officers and their families will be in vain.

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