America's police forces, or at least significant elements of those myriad agencies, are being scrutinised in an unprecedented way. Some, like the one in Minneapolis, may be disbanded while others face undeniable demand for change even if the appalling behaviour of some officers is just tip of the iceberg of America's enduring racism.
The outrages of recent weeks offer an opportunity to compare policing cultures. An Garda Siochana is, as they will admit, far from perfect but major reform is underway. Nevertheless, the brutish, aggressive, almost para-military policing imposed on a minority of American citizens is unimaginable in an Irish context. The all-too-obvious divide between America's police and those they police does not exist here. There is, despite everything, a large degree of trust and acceptance as the cooperation of the great majority of people with C19 checks and restrictions showed.
Against that background, the arson attack on a Garda’s home in Dundalk on Sunday night has been widely and rightly condemned. The Cavan/Monaghan division garda was at home with his pregnant wife and two children when a petrol bomb was thrown at the house. A Border-based drugs gang is the chief suspect. The garda had been, days earlier, involved in stopping the car of a suspected drug dealer.
An attack like this cannot be tolerated and if extra resources are needed to bring those responsible to book then they must be found. This is a slippery slope and as America's crisis shows the outcome, unless it is confronted, is entirely predictable.