Fear Mongering on Police Modernization

It’s election season so no one should be surprised that partisans are throwing fear of crime into the mix.  The Police Modernization Bill, initiated by the Binghamton Human Rights Commission, would codify documentation of police encounters by ethnicity, would create training in cultural sensitivity, and encourage for diversification of the police force. It is similar to legislation in other cities where the relationship between police and minorities has created inequities. Even top cop YC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has favored the esentials called for in this legislation.

The police union opposed the bill and spread disinformation that police will no longer be able to respond to information provided by the victim of a crime and will no longer be able to present suspects to crime victims for identification.  According to Sean Massey of the Human Rights Commission, “These statements are completely false and this memo appears to be an unfortunate scare tactic intended to shift public support away from passage of the law.”

Support for the police is the third rail of GOP politics and also a handy bludger to scare the electorate.  An eleventh hour mailing by Joe Mihalko illustrates this perfectly, calling supporters of the bill “special interests” even though it has enjoyed widespread community support. “Bad policy”, “handcuffing the police” are other phrases employed to scare people.

Massey and Democratic council people have acknowledged that the bill may need tweaking to be sure that it doesn’t hamper police, but the opportunity for fear mongering was too convenient.

Sadly, fear mongering has had great success nationally and locally. The best way to prove that it doesn’t work is to not be frightened of legislation that hasn’t even been written.


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