Almost every day, the news reports bring forth another case of alleged police brutality. Whether it’s cops beating a suspect, fighting a family, or even shooting an unarmed suspect, we are inundated with these reports to the point where it seems as though there is a current epidemic. It leads me to wonder whether police are out of control nowadays.
I have a personal stake in such events because of what I do. Law enforcement is just like any other job where 99% or better of the workers are hard-working and trustworthy people. It only takes a few bad actors, however, to make an entire group of workers look bad. With police work, things get magnified because the police are the ones who are supposed to be enforcing the laws, not breaking them.
With the exponential growth of social media and cameras everywhere, it seems as there is a non-stop stream of examples of police going overboard with citizens in their interactions. You have to consider the sheer number of daily encounters between the police and citizens to understand that these incidents are not as frequently as the media portrays. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending bad officers as that is not my intent. I simply don’t want people to think that half the cops out there are looking to put a beat down on everyone they encounter.
There is a growing list of names of people who have suffered or even died at the hands of the police. Some cases may be questionable because of the lack of video evidence while others are sickening to see because of the available video. Some cases, such as the Scott shooting in South Carolina, are even hard for ardent police supporters to defend. It’s hard to justify tactics and techniques when you see police fight for several minutes with a family while another officer shoots a fleeing suspect in the back. It makes it more difficult for the good officers to do their jobs because they are painted with the same brush as the bad ones.
The recent rash of cases paraded by the media makes me wonder if the appearance of widespread police brutality is a product of technology or are police really out of control? I think it’s a product of technology, but with the weekly parade of new cases or videos, it does make me reevaluate my stance.