My name is Ken Jones. I’m Bob’s brother. I spent 27 years on my hometown police department, starting in 1974 as a patrolmen before being promoted to sergeant and finally plain clothes detective before retiring.
A little about my and Bob’s hometown.
Vermilion is in northern Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie. It is your typical small, midwestern city. The population is approximately 13,000 and is predominately white.
[Note by Bob: Below is an approximate racial breakdown of Vermilion. Only about 10 percent of the population lists a four-year college degree. The population has grown by about 2,000 since these census figures.]
As I think back, police training was completely inadequate but was standard for the time. I was supplied with all the typical police equipment, I was assigned to ride with veteran officers for training, — the length of time escapes my memory. Then I was turned loose to learn the rest through experience
When I started on the police department it was a typical midwestern department for that1 time. The entire department was white males. As time went on, females were hired and we did have a black officer. The black officer was well accepted on the department and by the residents of the city. I can’t say that I have ever experienced any racism. I was not raised in a racist family and I never experienced any racism in our police department.
As a detective, I had to work with officers of various police departments around us while investigating crimes that happened in our city. Based on my experience, I believe most officers are consciencious about doing their job. Unfortunately, there are officers that either intentionally or unintentionally make mistakes and bad judgements that reflect on all policemen. The public has lost their trust in police officers because of these actions. To regain the public’s trust, officers must be held responsible for their actions. And their supervisors also need to be held accountable for the actions of officers under their supervision.
As for as some of the recent events where police have used excessive or unnecessary force, there is no excuse for it. It was recently said that convicting police officers is difficult. This should not be. Officers should be treated as anyone else in the criminal justice system. In order to regain the public trust the public must know that officers will be held accountable for any inappropriate actions.
Unfortunately, due to union intervention, it has become increasingly difficult to discipline and/ or fire officers. In my opinion unions have become too powerful and often protect those that should not be protected.
There’s talk of not funding police departments. I think this would be a big mistake. Due to the virus, the funding is going to be cut already. Without proper funding officers won’t get much needed additional training, additional officers won’t be hired; that increases the workload on existing officers and proper equipment can’t be purchased. I believe all of this will affect police officers negatively and may very well make the current situation even worse.
The current violence taking place will do little to correct the problems within the police departments. It will only be corrected when the administrators realize there is a problem and take the steps to correct it.