The Rev David Couper, was once the police chief in Madison, WI, but now serves as a priest at St Peter’s Episcopal Church in North Lake, WI. Recently he has been reflecting on the violence that has erupted in the wake of the killing of unarmed African American men by police in Ferguson, Mo and New York City.
The Rev. David Couper, 77, recalled the predawn hours of a March day nearly a quarter-century ago. A fire had broken out at a housing project in Madison, Wis., where he was the chief of police. A police sergeant, hearing about the blaze from a 911 dispatcher, jauntily sang of the apartment complex, “Sommerset Circle is burning down.”
And in his blog, Couper says that in order to heal the wide rifts in society highlighted by the events of this past year, policing in America needs to change and admit its faults.
“In order to restore trust between police and the communities they serve, our nation’s police must collectively apologize,” he wrote. “It is what we need today to begin to heal the relationships between blacks and police. It is the only way to move past events of Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and the residual effects we all have inherited from slavery, Jim Crow, and pernicious and residual racial discrimination.”
“What we say as police is that we have nothing to apologize for,” Mr. Couper said. “I say that maybe you’ve never done anything personally, but we’re all part of a historical legacy.
“That police are the people who keep other people down, especially if you’re a black person. But the reason police are effective is because people talk to them. And they talk of them because they trust them. When people don’t trust you, that’s when they’re most likely to hurt you.”
posted by Jon White