When Should We Call The Police?



A friend posted an article that I found interesting: Oregon is considering making it illegal (civil penalties)  to call the police on a suspicious person, notably when it’s a person of color. We have all seen reports of the police being called for nonsense. I recall seeing sometime back a woman called the police for her black neighbors barbecuing. Seriously. It’s ridiculous and a waste of law enforcement time.  What about seeing a suspicious person in your neighborhood, no matter the race or ethnicity? Well, according to the article, it seems that that, too, would become against the law. Not a felony, but it would allow the person the police stopped, to sue the caller.

I guess the idea is that unless the person is actually committing a crime, residents shouldn’t be calling the police. that actually flies in the face of what law enforcement would say to anyone. I have three friends in law enforcement, locally, who have always said that if I saw a suspicious person on my street, and by suspicious it would be someone that appeared to have no business there, then go ahead and call. Not 911, because there’s no emergency, but the normal line to the department. They would have a patrol car out to have a look in a few minutes. Their job, as was explained, is to attempt to prevent crime and taking a couple of minutes to have a look, even stop and question the person, was their job.

It may turn out to be nothing. One of my friends told me they recieve calls like this several times a week and 90% of the time, it’s nothing, but then there’s that one other time when it may be someone casing the neighborhood for some nefarious reason. So why pass a law that would have residents wary of calling the police?

Of course, a law like that would never survive a court challenge. There’s already ordinances, at least where I live, to prevent nuisance calls to the police. But if a person is truly concerned about someone wandering around without seeming to have any business there, then even if the person is just lost, and the resident fears it may be something else, why not just make the call?

Why attempt to criminalize public safety in the interests, in this case of something, I don’t know what to call it: racial justice? We certainly don’t want to stigmatize anyone of any race or ethnicity, but passing a law that would make it an offense, even a civil one,  to call the police, just seems stupid.



One thought on “When Should We Call The Police?

  1. The main argument I have heard in favor of this is that police pretty much cannot stop themselves from shooting innocent Black men and so calling the police to report a Black man is the moral equivalent of killing him oneself. This strikes me as a fairly odd way to absolve the police of all responsibility by shifting it on to everyone else.


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