New Jersey’s Monmouth County police chief dismissed any notion that one of his officers used a White supremacist symbol in a photograph posted on the department’s Facebook page, NJ.com reported. He deleted the page but overlooked the legitimate fears of residents who have a reason to be concerned.
“Unfortunately something nice turned into us being in the news. That’s why a lot of departments are not on social media,” Chief Jason D. Gallo said after he started receiving calls from media outlets for comments on the post.
One of his officers, in the lower right corner of the deleted post, displayed the “OK” hand gesture, which forms the initials “W-P” that has become a symbol for the resurgent White power movement. Gallo insisted that the officer’s intention was to mimic the circle game that kids play. That may be so. But in dismissing the situation, the police chief failed to recognize that his department serves the public, and residents of his community or people driving through that part of New Jersey have legitimate concerns about racially biased police officers. A more appropriate response would have included some recognition of those real fears.
Black men are nearly three times as likely as White men to be killed by police use of force. An analysis of 2010 to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Drexel University’s Dr. James Buehler confirmed the disparity. It doesn’t help that prominent African Americans like Dr. Ben Carson suggest that police bias and racial profiling are myths. That only encourages law enforcement officials to look the other way in the face of evidence of racial bias or dismiss the concerns of many of the people they serve.