Monday, September 17, 2007

Police Academy 7: Killadelphia, Pistolvania

I'm sure all you 70's Babies (that is, folks born in the 70's) remember those old Police Academy movies. At last count, there were probably like 14 of them, maybe more now with the straight-to-DVD craze. If you're unaware, these were cornball comedies featuring a cast of F-List celebs (Bubba Smith, a black dude who made funny voices with his mouth, 500 pound wrestler Tab Thacker, a busty bleach blonde, a black chick with a Michelle' voice), who suddenly found themselves as police recruits. Hilarity, and lots of bad sequels followed.

My favorite one was like Police Academy 8 (or something): Citizens on Patrol. In this one, a cash strapped police force had to recruit ordinary citizens to help catch the bad guys. There was the little old lady who cussed and couldn't shoot right, the bad assed skateboarding kids, and a host of other ne'r-do-wells. The whole thing of course ended badly, because hey, cops sorta kinda have to be trained, and it also helps if they have guns (Exhibit B: The Iraqi Police Force) to do the job.

Checking out this latest development from the City of Brotherly Thugs, I can't help but wonder if it's gonna end just as badly, minus Bobcat Goldthwait and a badly needed laugh track.

Philadelphia's embattled police chief, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets to reduce crime. Sylvester Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days.

"It's time for African-American men to stand up," Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution."

Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has notched 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males.

The men who join Johnson's program will not carry weapons or make arrests but will instead emphasize conflict resolution, similar to the Guardian Angels' ground rules.

The city's embattled police chief, acknowledging that police alone cannot quell a run of deadly violence, has called on 10,000 black men to patrol the streets to reduce crime.

Sylvester Johnson, who is black, says black men have a duty to protect more vulnerable residents. He wants each volunteer to pledge to work three hours a day for at least 90 days.

"It's time for African-American men to stand up," Johnson told the Philadelphia Daily News, which first reported the story Wednesday. "We have an obligation to protect our women, our children and our elderly. We're going to put men on the street. We're going to train them in conflict resolution."

Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, has nearly 1.5 million residents, 44 percent of them black. It has notched 294 homicides this year. More than 80 percent of the slayings involve handguns, and most involve young black males.

The men who join Johnson's program will not carry weapons or make arrests but will instead emphasize conflict resolution, similar to the Guardian Angels' ground rules.
On one hand, I applaud the police chief for stating the obvious: black folks need to quit allowing stuff to go down in their communities and stand up for something other than an Eagles game. The police don't always get it right, but they damn sure can't solve every problem or de-escalate every beef on their own. They need help, and black men need to be at the forefront of that help.

On the other hand, however, this program just seems doomed to fail. Asking men to volunteer for 3 hours a day is just too much. Even the most righteous brother has to put in 8 hours on the Day Job, eat, raise his kids, make sweet love to his woman, peep AverageBro.com, and sneak in a game or two of Madden. This doesn't add up to a spare three hours for most brothers I know.

Then of course, there's the whole "no gun and no arrest" bit. I mean, even a rent-a-cop has a flashlight. All these brothers will be equipped with is a cell phone with 911 on speed dial, and a prayer (which you need anyway). I don't see this really helping stop the violence. In fact, it might lead to more violence first.

I can already envision it...

[Scene: somewhere on Broad Street. A young man is busy sticking up another young man for his Andre Iguodala jersey and sneakers. Our Citizen on Patrol intervenes in hopes of resolving the conflict.]
Stick Up Kid: "Gimme that jersey and that fitted, ni**a. Hurry up, run dat'."

Citizen on Patrol, approaching from behind: "Excuse me, sir, could you please not rob this young man? That's a swingman jersey, it's worth $75. He has worked hard for that. Let's discuss some other alternatives."

S/UK, turning, incredulously: "Ni**a, who is you, 5-0?"

COP: "Nope, I'm just one of 10,000 concerned black men."

S/UK, laughing: "You packin'?"

COP: "No, I'm not packing. But I'd like to perhaps explore some other methods of resolving this conflict other than stealing this young man's possessions at gunpoint."

S/UK: "But you're not packin'?"

COP: "No, I'm not packing. But could we discuss some alternatives.."

S/UK, looking down at COP's shoes: "Aww, sh*t, is them the new Garnetts?"

COP: "Why, yes. Yes, they are. But let's discuss some alternative means of conflict reso.."

S/UK, turning gun toward COP: "Resolve this, mane. Run ya' wallet, and them new Garnetts. Early!"

COP: "Ok, sir."
[and... scene]


Forgive my making light of the situation here, but seriously, asking people to police without giving them tools and authority is downright lunacy. I don't doubt that many men interested in helping are going to consider this, as well as the time committment, and say "hey, when does the Eagles/Redskins game come on?"

For passing the baton on Drive-By Activism and asking people to really step up and help, I give Chief Sylvester Johnson some credit for thinking outside the box. But in this case, perhaps he thought a bit too far outside the box. Maybe asking men to assist with coaching/refereeing PAL basketball games, or tutoring neighborhood kids would be a more palatable request. As is, I just can't see many people answering this call for help, but it doesn't mean the call should go ignored.

Commandant Lassard is smiling inside.

Philly Seeks 10,000 Men to Guard Streets [AP]
10,000MenPhilly.com (Just In Case You ARE Interested)

1 AverageComments™:

Anonymous said...

I think what would be a realistic approach to the problem,s afro american,s,would be to instill past black people pride, and value,s into low income,low selfesteem and the end of black people competing on a materialistic level with each other.there should be a rally,with black role models speaking about,unity,pride andvalues ofoppressed race of human,s.black people have to feel good about themselves again like in the 60,s,70,s 80,s we are black and not white.

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