Situations like the one faced by former Philadelphia police officer Ray Carnation shows there’s a proper time for snitching.
No one likes to be the snitch – the person who is willing to dime out his or her pals for a little authoritarian leeway.
At some point in our lives, we turn a blind eye toward our friend who cheats on the midterm, or the hungry kid who rips off a candy bar at the minimart.
Of course, we know a buddy who has fallen into a bit of trouble and confides his secret to you over the phone. It’s simple male ethics to back your friends, never to spill a word to anyone about their actions.
However, there comes a time when snitching, or “whistleblowing,” is a moral responsibility, especially when it comes to dishonorable acts from the police.
When former Philadelphia police officer Ray Carnation reported racial abuses within his unit, not only was he fired, but has been at the mercy of a decade-long court battle.
As reported in a Jan. 12 Philadelphia Weekly article, in 1997, Carnation witnessed two fellow officers, both black, being ridiculed mercilessly by their white co-workers. In efforts to ease the tension, Carnation made attempts to befriend the two men.
Carnation, who is white along with the majority of the 25th district officers, was mocked due to his sympathy and understanding.
It’s understood the male fraternal pact is a sacred ritual, but Carnation knew when to say “uncle” and was wrongly mistreated as a result.
People need to understand there is a fine line between what should be kept under wraps and what should be reported. Sometimes we need to put aside our big-shot, alpha-dog egos and behave like responsible human beings.
Carnation spent the rest of his time on the force walking dangerous beats with another officer of the same character. He was made such an outcast, that when he came under fire and radioed for backup, no one responded.
He was labeled a snitch and paid the price. He lost his job, family and home, and now lives with the pain of knowing that speaking up can lead to an unfortunate path. Still, he doesn’t seem to regret it.
“I don’t look at it as snitching,” Carnation told Philadelphia Weekly. “I look at it as trying to do your part to make this a better police department.”
In recent weeks, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced he would like to abolish the “no-snitching” motto of the police force and make a comfortable environment that allows for misconducts to be reported without repercussions.
Carnation and others are skeptical the new policy will gain a foothold. Carnation said he feels Ramsey’s plan is “a bunch of B.S.”
“Out of a thousand cops you might have four of them come forward,” he told Philadelphia Weekly.
It is disturbing our beloved officers would act in such barbaric ways. In addition to weeding out bad police officers, Ramsey and the PPD administration need to figure out how to decipher between the trivial and the serious.
Obviously, racial discrimination is a serious offense that needs to be brought to the attention of police superiors. It is OK to brush off small incidents and forego the role of the “tattle-tale” because, quite frankly, I hate a snitch, especially one that blows-the-whistle every time a wrong is committed.
We need to use our heads here and identify that these men were being mentally and emotionally abused. I don’t care what kind of person you are, racism should never be swept under the rug.
Carnation is not only a brave man but a testament to the solidarity of truth over moral cowardice – something we should take into account when we feel the need to remain silent.
Bruce Chubb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.