I noticed that Prof. Cornell West, like many professionally black professors, discusses police through a skewed lense valorating blacks who are policed and presenting a skewed critique of police. For example in his March on Harlem on "police brutality", which I think non-heroically muddied a more virtuous message coming from OWS which was shifting national debate from deficit reduction to countercyclical stimulus spending on job creation and middle class debt forgiveness. But since I see Prof. West as more part of a rentier class (which includes people -many people- on the right in informal coordination with him) it doesn't disappoint me as much as seeing Prof. DeLong doing the same thing here:
I think police are part of a class of yeoman technocrats, like emergency responders, teachers, construction workers, truck drivers, and computer programmers. Our society is built on their competent fraction (hopefully a very strong majority!) doing an efficient, reliable job. Aspirationally, there's an artisan element to how everyone does their job, from yeoman technocrat to macrosocial, macroeconomic administrator.
But there seems to me to be a class of left-elites and libertarian-elites, which includes left-technocrats, that treat police as rivals in status coalitions rather than as yet another phenomena to look at through a good faith, empirically grounded, social epistemological lense. When it's comfy professor vs. more working class police officers, there's an added gaucheness to the hijacking of social epistemology that Prof. DeLong to his credit usually avoids in other areas.
Police brutality is a problem. But it's a problem that needs to be rationally ranked and sorted along with all other social problems, including housing finance, job creation, climate change management, infrastructure, etc.
And what police do well should be viewed in the same good faith as what community organizers, teachers, and public research university professors do well, for example. If one is going to aspire to be a left-technocrat rather than a leftist coalition status competition partner, then one is going to have to do better than Prof. DeLong does here, it seems to me.