Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mission Of Police Has Morphed From Serve And Protect

Again images of a cavalier and dismissive police officer with his knee on the neck of a handcuffed man that later died have brought people to the streets in protest of police brutality. This is not the first time police have overstepped their mandate. For years many officers have used a heavier hand than is necessary to enforce laws. While such heavy-handed treatment is most likely to be used on minorities and the young, it is often evident on anyone having the nerve to question the authority of someone wearing a badge. The reality is that police violence goes beyond black and white. Those granted the job of protecting and serving need to understand that "Do it because I said so" doesn't work. The bulk of the article below indicates little has changed over the last several years.

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.
The issue over police using unnecessary force and their attitude towards the public they are paid to serve is growing. Following the shooting death of  Brown in Ferguson and the controversial use of force on a black man in New York where choking contributed to his death, we should note abuses are being fostered upon people of every race and gender. Rather than simply an issue of racism, I contend this has more to do with the way the role of the police has changed over the last decade. The world has moved in the direction of becoming overly "politically correct" while the police have moved in the direction of flexing their muscle in a tight "boys club" where the first code is to protect your brother and ignore his transgressions. The post 9-11 propaganda of fear has been used to justify this change.

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
It must be noted that during the Obama era the trend to add a military component to police forces across the nation continued unabated. Many people view this as the government's way to extend control and power over the masses in case a civil uprising ever occurs. More and more we see those paid with our tax dollars driving aggressive macho vehicles and strutting around in black uniforms with a swagger of intimidation. Letting your eyes move around the world you will see similarities in today's images of armor covered police in America with shields lined up in front of military vehicles facing protesters. This is something we thought only happened in fascist or repressive countries. So where's the public outrage?

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
When I received a phone call that one of my buildings had been broken into I remember how my encounter with the police was not good. I can only imagine the amount of disrespect a non-building owner might have to endure. I was not one time addressed as sir or asked for information as to what areas the alarm system covered, instead, twice one of the officers referred to me as slick, as in "Well, slick, I think they were after was the hard drive from the computer in the law office." This must have been an attempt to bond with me in some condescending way. He then boasted about how he was slated for "SWAT" training later in the day. Note, this was a man unable to comprehend the so-called "crime scene" he was viewing was not the work of a sophisticated criminal but the result of kids so inept they had also broken into an empty office at the far end of the building.

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.


  1. Would you be a police officer? I wouldn't!!

    1. Christ,why would anyone who KNOWS THE LORD,what to be someone hes sending to hell,THEY KNOW THEY TOOK AN OATH TO HIM,yet they all lied,and they kill 6 children everyday,YOU think anyone would want them in heaven???

  2. Currently, it is not a profession that will get you a great number of fans. If you are into that sort of thing, firefighters do less but get more kudos.

  3. The issue is not as simple as those police who abuse power, and act in a manner that is almost inexplicable.
    We face a number of issues. There is the fact that the general public is not only ignorant of the rule of law, they are constantly placing people in office who have no respect for our system of law. This is not a democracy. This is a constitutional federal republic, wherein all power was supposed to rest in the hands of the people. We've completely lost that rule, and we've done so, in part because we've allowed police departments to be built rather than performing the Duty written into the Constitution.
    In doing so, we've allowed those representatives to place many high ranking police who act in the same manner as their tyrannical bosses.
    Many of these protesters now, and in the past are the same people who vote for more government intervention. I would be willing to bet that they are the same people who call for the disarming of the American people. We live in a world that is devoid of reason and logic for most.
    What do you expect when you vote with your stomach, rather than with your head?

  4. I agree, this definitely is not a simple problem that will be easily solved by society.

  5. Well said, Bruce. Several years ago I read an article by the former head of the national police association. I believe it might have been a woman. She decried the "militarization" of the police especially since 9/11. The police have been provided all sorts of military weaponry and tactics. I guess what's the point of having all those goodies if you don't use them? Thanks for the point of view.


    Qualified Immunity
    The officers are carrying a weapon more powerful than a gun into their encounters with the public.