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Why we need to talk about the blueprint for hate

People have formed an unfavorable opinion of our profession and it has become acceptable to harm and disparage those in law enforcement


There is a conversation I think we desperately need to have with our neighbors. If we fail to have this conversation, we will be forced to deal with being placed in the middle of a seemingly endless cycle of never-ending conflict.

Over the past few years, we have had to deal with protecting peaceful protesters from rioters and criminals who sought to take down our democracy, even when some of those peaceful protesters wanted to abolish our profession. We have been placed in the middle of so many conflicts that it has almost become commonplace to use our profession as the whipping board, meaning even when we do the right thing, we do the wrong thing! At the center of the majority of these conflicts is hate.

Throughout human history, many conflicts have been centered around hate and we as a species have perfected what I call the “blueprint for hate.” The blueprint for hate looks like this: You categorize a group of people by their occupation, race, gender, religion, political beliefs, or you fill in the blank as being “them and they.” Once these people are categorized as “them and they,” you lump them all together and they are no longer respected or viewed as individual humans but as a monotheistic group.

Next, you highlight the most extreme, completely unrepresentative negative behavior or act made by individuals of the “them and they” as normal and representative of all members of the group. Then you continually highlight the unrepresentative behavior so those who are not in the “them and they” group develop an unfavorable opinion of those who are in the group.

After this is done you start to dehumanize those in the “them and they” group so it becomes acceptable to those who are outside the group to harm and disparage those who are “them and they.”

Once a group is solidified as “them and they” mobs often form with the sole purpose of going after the group with whatever means they deem necessary to wipe them from existence.

The law enforcement profession has been placed in the “them and they” category from time to time over the years, which should harden our resolve to end the cyclical nature of the blueprint for hate. Over the past few years, out of literally hundreds of millions of interactions with our neighbors, the most extreme, unrepresentative behaviors by a few of those in our profession have been continually highlighted and portrayed as the norm. People have formed an unfavorable opinion of our profession and it has become acceptable to harm and disparage those in law enforcement. Mobs have formed and burned down some of our places of work, damaged some of our homes and set out to physically harm some of us.

“Them and they” is dangerous for our species. “Them and they” often changes as the blueprint for hate is just that, a blueprint, and is easily transferable from one group to the next. I believe we can lead this discussion with our neighbors.

As a profession we can discuss the steps we have taken to reduce our biases, meaning we are taught to view people as individuals and not lump people into groups. We are taught to treat people with respect and never take someone’s dignity away. Our training is the reason we have hundreds of millions of safe and respectful contacts with our neighbors every year. Leading this conversation will also benefit us as a profession as we are often called to stand in between the mob and those in the current “them and they” group. The cost to society in both blood and treasure has been high over the last few years paying us to stand in this gap and I know some of us are getting weary.

If we continue utilizing the blueprint for hate as a society, we may not be around much longer and I for one want my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids one day to enjoy all the things I have in life. I especially want them to have the opportunity to serve in our profession should they choose to do so.

Bloomington Police Department Chief Booker Hodges has worked as a school resource officer, patrol deputy, narcotics detective, SWAT operator, patrol overnight watch commander, inspector, undersheriff, acting chief deputy, an assistant public safety commissioner and now chief of police.

Prior to joining the Bloomington Police Department in April of 2022, he served with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Lake Police Department and the Ramsey and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. He has led agencies ranging from 40 to 1,500 staff members.