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It is incredible that people who hate America have been able to make a cause and produce turmoil out of something the vast majority of people in America agree upon.

Socialists, fascists, Marxists and others are rioting, burning, looting and murdering Americans – including at least five black people – in the wake of an incident in Minneapolis.

In that case, a black suspect died as police were pinning him to the ground.

The justice system worked as it is supposed to. The officer who pinned the man was fired, arrested, jailed and will face trial for murder. Three other officers on the scene later were arrested.

Nevertheless, thousands of people around the country, stirred by the media, began holding gatherings to demand “justice.”

That’s fine, legal and constitutional. But in many cities, other people began piggybacking on the demonstrations with arson, theft and violence.

That’s illegal, and does nothing to promote justice.

A black firefighter who had put his entire life’s saving into a store saw it burned to the ground. A retired black police officer was shot and killed, and mocked by those watching.

Their deaths are not justified by the incident in Minneapolis where a man died while resisting arrest. Virtually everyone agrees the police acted improperly in that case.

Including George Kirkham.

Kirkham was a professor at Florida State University in the 1970s, teaching criminal justice.

He had the intellectual honesty to realize he had no practical experience in the field.

So he joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in the summer of 1973.

Kirkham had believed that you could reason with a perpetrator when making an arrest, and avoid violence.

The first time he made an arrest, he tried that approach.

It was a domestic dispute call to the Blodgett Homes. The husband became belligerent, so he was handcuffed and put in the back of the police car.

Kirkham opened the door and tried to talk to the man. The suspect kicked him between the legs.

Quickly, Kirkham learned that police work is more difficult than critics make it seem.

Kirkham put his experiences into a book called Signal Zero, published in 1976. (I took the photo used on the back cover of his book.) He told Eye that his work in Jacksonville “launched my career.”

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He went on to become a recognized expert in police work and criminal justice. He wrote a book in 1979 on police use of deadly force.

He gave Eye on Jacksonville his views on the current situation in America.

Kirkham said he was “astonished” when he saw the now-famous video of the officer pinning George Floyd to the ground, and read the department’s policy on restraint.

Restraining people by using a “vascular neck restraint” is taught to Minneapolis police recruits, and two of the officers charged were rookies.

Police across the country have for the most part abandoned that technique after doctors determined it was dangerous, Kirkham said.

Kirkham said he believes the lawyers for the officers will use as a defense at their trial that they were doing what the police department trained them to do.

“That chief should resign,” he said.

But Kirkham said police work is a tough job, as he learned working as one in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and several other places.

“I wasn’t a particularly good cop,” he said. Once, hearing gunshots in Tallahassee, he rushed to the scene where a woman had just been shot in the head. A man stepped up and said he had shot her. Kirkham said his mind was running through appropriate procedures for questioning the suspect when he should have focused immediately upon finding and confiscating the gun.

He had about 18 months of active police work in all before returning to academia. He now is a private consultant in West Palm Beach.

Asked if he, with all his experience, thought there was systemic or widespread racism among police, he said “no.”

That was the same answer he gave Dan Rather on the 60 Minutes program many years ago.

Academic research and the government statistics on the use of arrest-related force seems to buttress his conclusion. For example, a police officer is 18 times more likely to be killed by a black man than he is to kill a black man.

Those promoting violence and anarchy will have to produce some evidence to convince rational people that the police are their enemy.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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