A news story on my local news channel in 2014 reported how a man faced charges stemming from Halloween party. It told how prosecutors charged a white 20-year-old man after police say he threatened them when they broke up a party on our local college campus on Halloween. According to court documents, police responded to a call about a loud party and while speaking with party-goers, officers noticed a half-empty vodka bottle on the floor. Police said when they went into the apartment, a very white fella was loud and refused to cooperate. After putting him in handcuffs and leading him out of the building via an elevator, he reportedly threatened the officer by saying he would beat and kill him. A struggle ensued and the officer used a Taser to subdue the man who was charged with resisting law enforcement, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct.
|Mug shot of White Man, provided by Sheriff's Dept.|
Abuse, violence, and unnecessary force is not used only on blacks and other minorities but is also employed on whites, or as I like to call them "people of non-color." In response to the incident above, I was not there but most likely more than one officer was in the elevator escorting him from the building. Even if I were alone with this handcuffed young man I would like to think that I could have brought him to the floor and held him down until another officer could arrive to help me. If so, tasering him stepped over the line. It should be noted many of these problems occur away from witnesses and cameras. If police wearing body cameras will help to protect the rights of Americans I think we best get on with equipping them with such. This causes me to wish for, "the good old days" when the police might have scolded this young man and told him to go to bed."
The media spins the protest sprouting up across America into being about blacks being abused but this spills over into the general demeanor of police and how they interact with all citizens. This is why so many young people and white faces are often seen in the protests. They understand at any time they might see their lives turned upside down by an officer with an attitude. The expansion of the NSA and the militarization of police forces across America reeks of a growing Orwellian police state that should concern us all. The feeling that many of these officers have they should be held to a different standard and are above the law has become an ugly reality across America. This is especially a problem in conservative or unenlightened areas where special economic incentives are often paid to police as a way to generate income for local government or the police department through fines, confiscation of money or property, and other fees. Enforcement of drunken driving laws and the war against drugs where even the most minor offense results in draconian and harsh penalties highlight just how skewed and warped enforcement has become.
|Click on image to enlarge|
To make matters worse it seems this aggression is spilling over into the personal lives of the police. Years ago an article in the Atlantic reported that studies suggest that domestic abuse and family violence are about three times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. Studies show cops typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report. This 'informal' method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies. A paper in 2003 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police highlights the law enforcement community's failure to track these cases consistently or rigorously. Several studies dating back into the 1990s or even before confirm partner abuse is especially problematic when domestic abusers become the people we call for help. Being a police officer is a job that anyone involved in domestic abuse should be disqualified from because it gives them a lethal weapon, trains them to stalk people without their noticing, and relies on their judgment and discretion to protect the abused against domestic abusers.
|To Protect And To Serve Was A Calling|
A young woman of non-color at another property I own who had an encounter with the police looking for someone in the area described them as "idiots with guns." The police mission in America seems to have morphed from "serve and protect" to "fighting a war on crime." This mixes in elements of maintaining order and searching for a terrorist under every bed. Many child psychologists and about every mother will tell you if you want to make a child more aggressive give them some toy weapons. It seems adults often react the same way and when police allow power to go to their heads they can to overstep the line. Most people understand police officers have a tough and difficult job, but while this may be distasteful to some police officers to hear this, "you are being paid by the citizens to do a job." Fear for your safety is not a defense for irresponsibly doing your job, if you are afraid another endeavor would be in order.
Two issues have become very clear. the first, Americans should not have to be afraid of those we pay to protect us. The second is that society's inability to get people to obey its rules and laws has dire consequences. Not enforcing laws to deter minor acts of stealing and such impacts our culture over time. Sadly this is not a problem just in America. Across the world, the cost of enforcement and crumbling justice systems have forced courts to prioritize crimes by seriousness. This means many prosecutors are now letting petty criminals walk free for crimes such as shoplifting, minor assault, vandalism, and fraud. This is one reason young people across the nation feel empowered to smash $1,500 widows and loot using anger over police tactics as their justification.