Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Middlebury shouldn’t focus on defunding its police

It would be a serious mistake if Middlebury residents jumped on the bandwagon to defund police in our community. We should instead be holding up our community’s policing as a model for others to follow. 
Chief Tom Hanley’s passionate statements in this newspaper denouncing militarized and racist police activity are a breath of fresh air coming from the top. Equally important is the routine work of our police in answering calls to assist endangered individuals: victims of domestic violence, those suffering from drug and alcohol excess, and homeless individuals in need of immediate support. 
I have worked with Chief Hanley on finding solutions to the latter problem. In our community meetings to address homelessness he stands out as a defender of the dignity of homeless individuals and calmly, but credibly and vehemently, pushes back on even the merest suggestion that all members of this marginalized group in our society are a threat. Our Middlebury police force acts as a social service agency as often as it does in a more traditional mode of ticketing and enforcement. If anything, they should be funded at a higher level and staffed to perform these social functions without disrupting “normal” policing work as is currently the situation.
I am not a person of color. However, I am a Native American and I read daily about police violence leveled against Indians. Or worse, thousands of sexual assaults and murders not being investigated in the USA and Canada. 
When we have an excellent police force protecting all of us, and serving, not victimizing, the marginal members of our society, we should be supporting their activity. For those who have not spent time in a country where the police function only minimally, I suggest that you be careful of what you wish for. A time may soon come when our local police stand between us and right wing militia, or extremist “lone wolves” who would too happily take policing into their own hands.
Randy Kritkausky
Whiting

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