Ricky L. Jones is the exact person the River City Fraternal Order of Police should want on the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability — and so should the Metro Council and city of Louisville.
The Council delayed the appointment of Jones after objections from FOP President David Mutchler, echoed by Republican Councilwoman Julie Denton, whose husband is a retired Louisville police officer. While it may bother some, Mutchler and Denton have every right to voice their opinions — and, in this case, objections.
That does not mean either is right… Of course, they are not.
This commission was created in 2003 to provide citizen oversight over investigations into police shootings and actions that result in loss of life. The commission can only review investigations and advise the police chief and mayor “on the adequacy and quality of the investigation and may recommend changes in police policy, training and procedures.”
Jones, chairman of Pan-African Studies at the UofL and an erstwhile columnist for LEO, is eminently qualified to serve on such a board. He has the credibility to speak on behalf of people who are skeptical of law enforcement.
To be clear, I am not referring to just the black community. Skeptical people include black, brown, white, liberal, conservative, young, old and so on.
Yes, there are skeptics among whites, liberal and conservative. I am one of them, which does not mean I am anti-police. Like Jones, I am not anti-police… I am anti-injustice.
Jones has proven his credibility among cynics by advocating for accountability, transparency and challenging institutional powers. It is crucial to question the veracity of those, including the police, who investigate themselves.
It should be encouraging to have someone who, at his core, feels compelled to question authority. It should instill confidence that accountability is real, that all voices are represented and, most important, that all have faith in the outcome.
As for Mutchler and Denton, while they are entitled to their opinions, their reasoning is baseless… or hypocritical. They object to Jones because of comments and tweets he has made, which they say demonstrate a bias — a bias that should preclude him from serving on the commission.
But isn’t that just what they are doing?
For Mutchler, I would argue that he is doing what Jones is doing: representing his constituency… officers of the FOP. His bias is on behalf of his members.
For Denton, when she says she will do anything she can to prevent Jones’ appointment, she believes she is doing her job as a councilwoman.
This does not make them racist. Could they be? Sure. Are they? I have no idea. The name-calling should stop on both sides of this debate.
As for bias, here’s a little insight… Jones was nominated to be biased. Jones was appointed to be vociferously candid and honest in his assessment of police actions — just like he has his entire professional career.
Mutchler and Denton say Jones is biased and outspoken? They are damn right Jones is biased and outspoken. He is biased against injustice, and outspoken when he sees human-rights violations. He is biased against systemic racism in all forms, fashions and institutions, which have plagued America since its inception.
We should all be as outspoken when such crimes are committed — when the powerful prey upon the vulnerable.
Jones’ depth of understanding of various communities and cultures makes him a good choice for this appointment. Yet, it is his courage to speak out — sometimes in ways that bother some people — that makes him the perfect person for this commission.
As for Mutchler and Denton, their personal animosity for Jones has clouded their perspective on his qualifications for this job, and the intangible qualities he would bring to the commission.
Chief among them: trust.