Former Police Officers Explain The 'Blue Wall Of Silence'
The "blue wall of silence" refers to the informal code in law enforcement that discourages officers from reporting police misconduct and corruption.
Ron Stallworth: "We tend to resist being judged by outsiders. Thus, if we know of somebody committing a wrong, we tend to stand by that officer simply because he’s one of us."
Professor David Thomas: "Police have always had 'cultures.' And it's always an individualized culture of its own — separate from society."
To learn more, Newsy spoke to two former police officers: Professor David Thomas, psychologist and criminologist at Florida Gulf Coast University; and Ron Stallworth, author and the real-life "Black Klansman" who infiltrated the KKK in the late '70s.
Stallworth: "We tend to erect this 'blue wall of silence.' We erect a barrier, a shield to protect our own. It's nothing new. It's been going on long before I even became a cop in the '70s."
The "blue wall of silence" refers to the longstanding and informal code in law enforcement that punishes whistleblowers and discourages officers from reporting police misconduct and corruption.
Thomas: "I've seen the retaliation happen. … I've seen people transfer. … I've seen officers quit and go to another agency, because they just refuse to be a party to it."
Law enforcement researchers, activists and politicians have recognized the issue for years — recommending external reviews and internal incentives to combat the code of silence. Among the general public, a recent AP poll on police reform found that more than 80% of respondents support "requiring police to report misconduct by their peers."
Thomas: "That is a very difficult position to be in, because this position, policing is about trust."
Both Thomas and Stallworth support the calls for more internal accountability, but also recognize the difficulty to change the culture.
Stallworth: "You have to encourage officers to step forward. … They can't be allowed to fear backlash from their peers because they choose to do the right thing while others choose to remain silent."
Ex-Cop J. Alexander Kueng Pleads Guilty In George Floyd Killing
J. Alexander Kueng is the second officer to plead guilty to the state charge, following Thomas Lane, who pleaded guilty earlier this year.By Hennepin County Sheriff's Office / AP
George Floyd's Family Issues Cease-And-Desist Letter To Kanye West
In a podcast interview, West claimed Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, not neck compression by an officer as the medical examiner ruled.By Mark J. Terrill / AP
Brianna Grier Funeral Raises Calls For Mental Health Response Teams
Brianna Grier died after sustaining injuries in police custody. Funeral attendees called for mental health support and justice in the investigation.By Brynn Anderson / AP
Iran Executes First Known Prisoner Arrested During Protests
Mohsen Shekari was executed for allegedly blocking a street and attacking security with a machete during protests against Iran's morality police.By Joerg Carstensen / dpa via AP
Yellen, Malerba Become 1st Female Pair To Sign U.S. Currency
Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen and and Treasurer Lynn Malerba ceremonially signed fresh sheets of $1 and $5 bills to mark the history-making moment.By LM Otero / AP
Amazon Gives Delivery Drivers $5 If You Tell Alexa To Thank Them
Amazon is paying the drivers directly, so saying thanks is free for customers — but the promotion ends after 1 million thanks are given.By AP