Written on 5/3/2015
Currently, the nation appears to be a hot bed of dissension and demonstrations regarding recent incidents of alleged police misconduct, brutality, excessive force and wrongful death. If you listen to street activists, reactive politicians and the usually uninformed media, you will generally be led to believe that the police are the bad guys who arbitrarily select minority citizens innocently going about their daily routines and then subject them to unlawful detentions, arrests and excessive quantas of force.
The aforementioned sources appear to be united in a narrative that seeks to inform us that the causes of police injustice are racial profiling, white officers scared of and biased towards young black men, police incompetency and a culture of corruption and conspiracy to cover-up misdeeds occasionally referred to as the “Blue Cone of Silence.”
If you listen to pedantic professors, limousine and corporate jet commuting activists and even our own President and his former U.S. Attorney General, you hear buzz phrases that justify the “root causes” of the minority community’s distrust of police and authority as “economic inequality” and endemic racism.
The current catch phrase for police accountability is “body cameras on all officers, all the time.” That is far from the answer for some of America’s communities’ historic conflicts with the law enforcement community. The real issue that everyone from our President down to the street activists refuse to acknowledge is that it’s not cameras, but bad choices that forms the intersection of negative and sometimes violent police encounters with citizens that results in detentions, arrests and police uses of force, including deadly force.
The police are not the panacea for American society’s historic socio-criminal ills – they are the first responders to them. Police officers are not sociologists, criminologists, psychologists, or mental health professionals. They are members of our own communities, with a modicum of training; many lacking experience; who you force to engage you when you, your family members and friends are out of control, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and/or mental health disorders and are making bad choices.
In fact, in the more prominent cases presently aired by the media, the bad choices made by the individuals and/or their parent(s) years prior to their encounters with police, led directly to those final rendezvous. It does not take a Ph.D. in constitutional law to understand that if you rob and assault people, shoot people, rape people, sell drugs, run from police, resist arrest and/or threaten officers or others with great bodily harm, the police will more likely than not respond with force to arrest you.
Economic inequality is not caused by racism; it is caused by a climate, an American culture, politicians and parents who do not encourage education, the development of job skills, the family unit, or respect for authority and the rule of law.
It has historically been police officers, not politicians who have constantly asked for better training, technology and manpower to do the very difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible task of protecting the public from itself. Very rarely do they ever receive such support from their own municipal governments and the very communities they risk their lives daily to protect.
So before you posture in front of a news camera; or enable uninformed anarchists who use police as their scapegoat to destroy your communities; ask yourself what you have done as a person, a parent, or a politician to support the police and your own communities.
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police practices expert at http://www.martinelliandassoc.com.