With each passing day, it seems there is another thing that happens that causes members of the public to have a greater negative reaction against the police force. Whether it be the killing of an unarmed civilian, another form of brutality, or a simple violation of a person’s rights, something happens. This distrust is growing beyond being just between the black community and police officers. It’s starting to become civilians of all races, of all religions, of all backgrounds. We are moving towards a country in which the civilians and those that are supposed to protect and serve are constantly in a state of hostility towards each other. This type of situation is bad for all parties involved and something needs to be done to prevent this.
My current biggest fear about the police force is that they are going to grow to become a full-fledged paramilitary force. By this, I mean complete military typed gear, vehicles, guns, etc. This would cause a great amount of distress in the public. The gear that the SWAT team wore in the mid-2000s was very successful in protecting them in scenarios in which they had to get into gun fights. Now, there seems to be overkill in the amount of gear and guns that they take into situations. On top of that, these paramilitary forces are the ones that are looking at protests and other things like that. For example, some of the Ferguson protests were overlooked by a police force that was completely decked out in military gear and equipment, and this was prior to any of the looting. Could you imagine protesting something and seeing a militarized force next to you? This is especially concerning considering the situations that they were protesting. They were protesting the 1%, they were protesting the police killing an unarmed man.
If the police force grows too large, the answer then becomes who do they have to answer to? This is already showing that it is going to become a major issue in America. The police do actions and they often have no consequences of it. There have been different instances where a police officer has done something violent to a person, or a group of people, only for there to be no consequences. If this continues to happen, it’s going to create an absolutely awful pattern of expectations. They are going to believe that they can do actions, violate any rights, harm any person and nothing will come from it. We can’t allow this precedent to happen. A paramilitary police force mixed with having no consequences for actions would be bad for us all.
Another issue, which relates back to them not having anyone to answer to, is the way police investigations are carried out. The people that investigate the officer, is the department–that he/she worked for his/her entire life. Also, the prosecutor to the officer is the prosecutor that the officer has worked with the entire career. Someone is going to be far less likely to build a case against someone if he/she worked together for his/her life. Private investigator need to come in and investigate the case, while a prosecutor from a different counter needs to be in charge with creating a case against the person being accused.
Laws need to be passed to better protect the civilian from wrongful actions of the police. One of these, that I wholeheartedly support, is body cameras. Mandatory body cameras is necessary in today’s age. A lot of the actions that happen so quickly, with many different stories, that it is challenging to know what the real truth is. Body cameras would do wonders in revealing the truth. Cameras that need to be turned on the entire time of the shift, with audio during any encounters is necessary. There needs to be penalties against the officer if it goes off during any of these times, especially if something big happens.
I think the biggest issue with police, however, has nothing to do with the officer but more with the training. I think police school is too short. Some of these people get thrown into the proverbial line of fire too quickly. These are the officers that are so quickly to use deadly violence in cases where it shouldn’t have been used. Also, I believe that the physical tests need to be harder. These people are supposed to protect and serve. They will do a whole lot better of a job doing that if they are exceptionally fit and have a lot of training under pressure.
There is a clear distrust between police and civilians. I don’t, however, it has grown to the point where it can’t be repaired. We just need to better train the officers, equip them with things that will protect the civilians, stop the movement towards a paramilitary force, and not be so quickly to use deadly actions. It’ll take a long time, but I want to get to the point where I can look at the police force with respect instead of disgust.