To the editor:
Jackson Chief of Police Chris Perley’s recent remarks “People should be very cautious about listening to voices suggesting defunding of the police because their motives are not always in the best interest of society” were highly inappropriate but unsurprising.
To use the alleged despicable actions of a single individual (Mr. DeVries) to impugn the motives of a nationwide, multiracial movement is not only deeply cynical, it’s also a standard Chief Perley would be reluctant to hold his own institution to.
I pose the questions to Chief Perley: How should one evaluate the motives of police writ large when a local chief steals from the D.A.R.E Program (former Bartlett Chief Snow) or when an officer murders an unarmed Black person (George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, etc.)? Should we assume police have “motives in the best interest of society” when the FBI cites links between law enforcement and white supremacist extremists in its 2015 Counterterrorism Report?
When officers commit atrocities, we’re told they’re “bad apples” and don’t reflect the rest of law enforcement. When an individual like Mr. DeVries commits heinous crimes, Chief Perley seeks to discredit tens of thousands of activists calling for community-based alternatives to policing and the millions who support them.
Police ostensibly operate under the mantra of “serve and protect.” So, when police actions trigger protests across the globe, adherents to that guiding principle ought to ask, “how can we better serve our community?” not use police work as a cudgel to silence criticisms. I point to Jackson’s top-notch fire department as an exemplar of a public institution that operates with a service-first approach.
Chief Perley’s opportunistic comment underscores a driving motivation for replacing policing with alternative models; police do not want to be held accountable by those they ought to be serving and protecting. He should apologize.
Formerly of Glen