Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out~ Proverbs 10:9 NIV
Choices have consequences.
The city of Miami learned this truth the hard way.
In the early 1980’s, the city of Miami found themselves in the center of what can only be described as an unmitigated nightmare.
The ugly muddle commenced in 1980 when a Miami police officer was charged with murder after a man was beaten to death following a motorcycle chase. The officer was acquitted and predictably a series of exceedingly violent demonstrations known as the McDuffie riots followed.
Later that year 150,000 mostly non-English speaking Cuban refugees arrived almost without warning in Miami. The population of the city increased by a third in the course of a day. It was later learned that many of the refugees were criminals and mental patients Castro released for the express purpose of humiliating and aggravating the American government. 1980 was also the year Miami became the favored port of entry for cocaine smugglers working off the Eastern Seaborg.
The pandemonium reached a boiling point in 1982 when Miami received the dubious honor of being named the murder capitol of the world. The police were clearly overwhelmed, crime was out of control and citizens no longer felt safe on the streets. Tourism and the income it provided had all but dried up.
The voters were beyond furious.
City leaders tore into a fit of frenzied action and authorized an unprecedented hiring spree. The size of the police force nearly doubled over the course of the next two years. But, as so often happens when people get hung-up on the big picture and hurry to get something done, corners were cut. In this case the corners were all related to scrutinizing the character of candidates.
Oddly enough, department standards for fitness and education were preserved. However, background investigations were shortened and integrity interviews were all but cut from the hiring process
A lot of really bad people became police officers.
In the years that followed at least twenty percent of the officers hired have been convicted of serious crimes. Those crimes include corruption, extortion, witness tampering, theft of evidence, possession, murder, and conspiracy to commit murder.
The city of Miami’s reputation has been permanently damaged as a result of that long ago hiring binge. Many still imagine Miami to be a drug-infested, crime-ridden cesspool of violence and to this day nobody really trusts the police there. The lack of trust in the police has made many folks (especially immigrants) reluctant to report crime, and any time there is an incident where an officer is accused of misconduct, the public is predisposed to believe the criminal rather than the cop.
The repercussions for eliminating nearly all character screenings for a profession with an extraordinary level of power and autonomy appear to be rather obvious in the rear view. However, it is my belief that the city leaders were not intentionally malevolent or willfully stupid. They simply overlooked a fundamental and stubborn truth.
Everything comes back to character.
Character is who we are and what we do when we believe no one is looking. It’s easy to forget that even the deeds done in secret become a part of our core selves. Our choices make us who we are, and who we are eventually becomes painfully obvious to everyone who really knows us.
Like it or not, we are all connected. In the city of Miami, the actions of a few negatively affected how others perceived the city. The same thing happens in Christianity all the time. Anytime a believer displays a lack of integrity in any area of their lives the whole church winds up looking bad as a result. In recent decades the reputation of the church has been permanently damaged by the actions of a few. It’s time for Christians to stop the madness.
Fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10); it is also the foundation of genuine integrity. Integrity is the foundation of good character. Fear of the Lord is really just belief that God really exists and that He can and will do all things the Bible says He can and will do. When a Christian lacks integrity it’s not a behavior problem- it’s a belief problem.
Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free~ Alan Moore