Watch almost any cop show or movie and you will see a consistent theme. The "good" cop has to "cross the line" for the "greater good." The fact the line was crossed and Citizens were abused, killed or violated gets lost in the "effectiveness", the end result of the police action (the arrests, the accolades and the awards). Many, if not most cops reach this point - the point where they must pretend to not see wrongdoing. The problem with America in general, but especially in the areas of justice or law enforcement, is this - "being effective" (getting a result) trumps the law, justice, Constitutional rights and morality. Cops discover to be "good", they have to be bad or ignore the bad some or all of the time. The outlets for "effective" policing (getting results with secondary or no consideration of law, justice, Constitutional rights or morals) is, for the most part, institutionalized racism (see report) and oppression of the poor. (see report) Visit any of our courts or prisons and this will become painfully clear. See Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal
"In the real world, cops are far from independent agents, Rather, they act within the constraints of a very powerful organizational culture that significantly influences and constrains their judgements and conduct. For similar reasons, viewing police brutality as a string of unrelated incidents belies reality. Police officers who misbehave are often part of a larger pattern of misconduct involving multiple incidents and multiple actors. Such patterns cannot be attributed solely to the misbehaving individuals. Individual officers are behaving as their departments have trained them to behave--whether explicitly or implicitly--and the organizational culture that cultivated and sustained them must also bear some responsibility." -- Barbara E. Armacost, Organizational Culture and Police Misconduct, 72 George Washington University Law Review 453, 476 (2004).
Another way of saying that is "When Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. " Every civilized society needs structure and enforcement. This article is not anti-police; it is against excessive and unnecessary abuses and killings by police. Our Constitution was intended to protect us from abuses of government and law enforcement. The Constitution is now disregarded routinely for "effectiveness" at the expense of Law, justice, Constitutional rights and morality. What "works" has become more important than what is right. Today if you get charged, unless you have money, your innocence, if you are innocent, is irrelevant. More likely than not your lawyer and the prosecutor will work in collusion to force you into a plea which is always a guilty plea on some level. Resist that and they will throw the kitchen sink at you with threats and multiple charges with lengthy sentences. All this is done in the name of "judicial efficiency." Our Constitutional rights are being eroded. Couple that with policing that is more concerned with getting results with secondary or no consideration of law, justice, Constitutional rights or morals. Add to that the inherent tendency ALL of us have to abuse power (yes, YOU!) and we have the mess we have today.
Give cops the rules of "effective" policing as defined here coupled with the inherent human weakness to abuse power to people who, for the most part, start policing in their twenties and you have some of the reasons for the insanity we have today. Cops are killing with impunity, guns come out for practically any reason imaginable, SWAT teams are used to serve warrants, militarizing of police, police using weapons of war against peaceful protestors, escalating the situation upon arrival, etc. Abusing power comes easy. Learning not to abuse power takes a lifetime.
When the Ferguson police opened fire on peaceful protesters with 3 weapons of war, why wasn't THAT called rioting? Every American needs to watch the shocking, full video of this pathetic assault. Why wasn't the countless videos we have of police pointing guns at peaceful protesters "inciting a riot?" In some areas policing has become more about terrorism and tyranny instead of policing.
The response to the uprisings in Ferguson regarding systemic abuses and racism added to the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in New York and countless others along with the ensuing nationwide protests brought many police chiefs to the media level with one basic message:
First of all, when, in ANY of the world's history, did anything good come of it when the primary message of the enforcement arm of governments is for their people to SUBMIT AND OBEY? CHECK YOUR HISTORY!
Second of all, submitting to police usually is the PRELUDE to the beating and, in many cases, your death. We now have COUNTLESS videos and deaths attesting to these facts. Submitting to police does NOT mean "all will be well" at all.
If you don't see the logic or necessity of these 3 changes (like the guy on the left) you need your head examined. Denying the above SANE solutions shows either that power has gone to your head, you are a blind non-thinking follower or you are reality challenged. You have forgotten what the Constitution is. Your thinking is dangerous to any sane, civilized society regardless of what your position in society is. Do you really believe as Citizens in the United States of America
Anyone thinking this is what this country should have is totally irrational. And to have people in power and/or wearing a badge and a gun that think this way is downright dangerous.
Cops will routinely state they are putting their lives on the line every day. Yet, if they can kill when scared, even when that fear is all in their head, they are NOT putting their lives on the line at all. Every Citizen is putting THEIR lives on the line every day when around a cop. How is your life in danger when you can shoot out of fear, even when the fear isn't based on an actual threat? 21st Century policing has put every Citizen in danger of their lives daily with this pathetic legal reasoning that cops can kill out of fear - whether reality based or not. Cops are told to kill and ask questions later. And remember, cops are trained to shoot for one reason only - to kill.
The facts are some cops have been killing when their life is not in danger at all!
Like soldiers at war on a battlefield, many cops disregard the humanity of American Citizens. Move too quick? SHOOT OR BEAT! Move too slow? SHOOT OR BEAT! Turn too fast, have a handicap, have a mental problem, confused, scared to death? NO MATTER - SHOOT OR BEAT! ANYTHING besides rapid and total submission to their authority is considered "resistance" requiring the use of physical or deadly force. Any exercise of Constitutional rights causes many cops to view you as an enemy of the state. Those that don't believe this either haven't had it happen to them or haven't been paying attention to the endless flow of news stories that continue to surface almost daily.
Cops can kill when scared, even when the fear is all in their head. But the American Citizen is supposed to act with rapid and total submission when faced with aggression, it is clear their life is in danger, death or bodily injury seems imminent or when they see a gun. Normal human reactions to any of these life threatening behaviors might include freezing, panic, charging at or trying to remove the threat in a last ditch attempt to save their lives, running, irrational behavior, etc. NO ONE knows how Citizens will react to aggression or threats to their life until it happens. Cops get to react by killing or beating. Their humanity seems to be all that matters.
Rhode Island state police Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell said at a public forum,
"When the cop steps out of a car for a traffic stop, his number one priority is his safety."
Why wouldn't the number one priority of the cop be the safety of EVERYONE? He followed up with,
"the officer wants to go home at night."
The Citizen doesn't? Perhaps he wasn't being clear but this came across as arrogant and elitist. I had a problem for a while where I could not get on my knees. This would be viewed by some cops as a green light for abuse or even my on the spot execution had I been given an order to get on my knees. I could go on for an hour about people beat and killed for having legitimate reasons to not respond to a command. Americans are no longer Citizens. They are treated like enemy combatants on a battlefield. Our humanity is irrelevant.
Systemic Racism, Abuse & Oppression Of The Poor: It stands to reason that the race disparity regarding police abuse, arrests and killings must be stopped. Likewise, the oppression of the poor by communities trying to finance themselves via excessive enforcement of petty crimes and traffic violations has to stop also. But the goal of the reforms we seek is not to have "equal opportunity and racially neutral" police beatings, killings and petty enforcement. We want all unnecessary and unreasonable enforcement, beatings and killings stopped. What good will the laudable goals of having a police force staffed to reflect the race of the community and have them all trained in racial sensitivity yet still have them kill, beat and enforce unjustly and with impunity?
Unreasonable Legal "Reasoning": The law today can be likened to Silly Putty - creative interpretations abound. Like Silly Putty, law is stretched in all directions and can be bounced from the "spirit" of the law to the "letter" of the law resulting in differing legal opinions despite similar circumstances.
The Grand Jury Process: To have prosecutors that have ongoing working relationships, and perhaps even friendships, with police handle the grand jury process is a pathetic joke. Any death of a Citizen at the hands of police, unless the verifiable circumstances clearly justify it, should be handled by an independent prosecutor and/or a trial process should commence.
The Blue Wall Of Silence: (also called Blue Code or Blue Shield) The common mantra that most cops are good is true but MUST be tempered with this fact - most cops also will not report misconduct of their departments resulting in all police departments being complicit with wrongdoing. This MUST change.
Special Bill Of Rights: Many areas have a special bill of rights for police making it harder to discipline or get rid of bad cops. Most all cops have unions and civil remedies available to them and these bills have to be either drastically altered or eliminated. James Vincent, President of the Providence branch of the NAACP said,
"Right now there's a policeman's bill of rights that some officers use to protect themselves from being punished...There's a tiny minority of police officers, I call them bad apples, who feel they can do whatever they want."
Also see this Channel 12 exposé on the policeman's bill of rights where Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare essentially agreed with Vincent.
No Citizen Oversight: We need Citizen involvement regarding oversight and complaints against police. The secrecy must stop. Police would laugh at any Citizens saying they can police themselves yet insist they be allowed to do just that.
Lying, Testilying And Perjury: While cops are allowed to lie under certain circumstances (See Can Cops Lie?), false reports, lies, testilying and perjury are an epidemic in policing and cause immeasurable suffering affecting countless lives. Some cops seem to think they have a green light to lie about everything. We have countless examples of cops lying about the law, lying to take a stop to the next level, lying saying it is illegal to film them etc. Police lie so much the legal profession calls it testilying. Given the importance of truth in policing added to the fact lives can be drastically and negatively affected by lying cops, all cops should be prosecuted, punished, fired and and/or personally sued for lying, whatever is appropriate for the situation. The current attitude in the legal system to the systemic problem of lying, perjuring cops is, "So what?" Add that to the problem of cops planting evidence...do you see the problem YET? One way to protect against police misconduct is cop cams. Read Cops, Lying, Testilying And Perjury to see how prevalent this problem is.
Erosion Of Civil Rights: Slowly but surely our government, case law and the US Supreme Court are chipping away at civil rights by carving out more and more exceptions to them. This has opened the door for a lot of the police misconduct that has given rise to the latest uprising. A prime example of what happens when civil rights erode was the stop and frisk practices in New York. Vew Unconstitutional - The War on Our Civil Liberties by Robert Greenwald.
So America, DO THE MATH. First we have police able to kill when afraid even when the fear is all in their head. Add that to training that teaches them to disregard normal human reactions and consider them as resistance to their authority. Add special bills of rights making it hard to get rid of wrong doers. Add the Blue Wall Of Silence and a legal system that considers rampant perjury of cops as inconsequential. Add to that prosecutors who work and are friendly with police being in charge of prosecuting their wrongdoing and all the other things mentioned in this article. DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM YET?
!! WAKE UP AMERICA !! You may be fortunate to live in an area where there is very little police misconduct. If you are rich, white or live in certain areas it is very easy to pretend, deny or imagine that all these things in this article aren't true. Well, they are true and we need to wake up FAST. You may think, "The cops I know would never do this." You may be right. Thank God most cops DON'T do these things.
But, do you want a system in place that ALLOWS for the misconduct and killings addressed here?
Do you want them to be able to conduct themselves in the manner described here?
THAT is what we have now and THAT is why changes are long overdue.