I read an article this week in the local paper here in Burbank about a major discrimination lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department being filed this week. The lawsuit is being brought by about five officers, three Hispanics, two males and one female, as well as an Armenian man and I believe one Black man. They allege that over the years they have been subject to numerous cases of ugly racial statements, discrimination, retaliation and general mistreatment. I don’t even want to repeat some of the stupid things that were supposedly said to them and that they had to listen to. Just suffice it to say that they were often the typical slurs and ethnic innuendos. If what they are saying is true, and frankly it is hard to imagine five people deciding to come forward with this kind of lawsuit if they weren’t sure of their case considering how hard it would be for them to keep their jobs otherwise, that I believe it must be true.
One of my initial thoughts upon reading this, is wow, can this be in my town, Burbank, in California? But it is a reminder that racism doesn’t stop at the borders of certain cities and towns. Look at the cops in New York City that viciously beat up that black man a few years ago, think about Rodney King and Mark Furman. So little Burbank is not immune and I should not be surprised.
My second thoughts were what is up with cops? Is there a certain breed of person that chooses to be a cop? Does it attract bullies and small minded people? I don’t think that is true overall, because I have met some really cool police officers and I do believe what these people do on a daily basis for all of us is indeed heroic and remarkable. But somehow these incidents happen, from one side of the country to the other and in police departments large and small. For the most part I’m going to stand by the belief that police departments only reflect the larger society. That a small percentage of them are racists, reflective of the society at large. But equally so, many are fine people.
But there is no getting around the fact that it is incredibly scary to think that in the case of a racist police officer, they are licensed to carry a gun and can legally mess with you whenever they feel like it. It is not harmless bigotry. So if the facts of this lawsuit are true, I hope the Burbank Police Department is made to pay a high price and as a result forced to make some serious adjustments to the force and in the mindset of its leadership and officers. Only then can all the people feel safe.