Not every situation should be considered hostile or require the use of violence
If you’ve seen the video of the police officer throwing a young black girl across her classroom floor, you were probably a little disturbed. A grown armed man vs. a young school girl. Who wouldn’t be?
Like any case of police brutality, there is a never a lack of people who jump to defend the actions of the cops. The articles I’ve read that defend Officer Ben Fields agree on the same points: the student defied authority, created an environment of “anarchy”, and justifiably forced the hand of the police officer to use stronger physical force.
I understand that communication was used by all three authority figures, and that it was not enough to make the student obey, and maybe a more physical approach was needed. But the level of violence and lack of physical restraint that was used against the student goes to show that a lot of officers are not capable of peacefully dealing with any sort of situation.
In America, officers often show no reluctance in using force in situations that would otherwise not need it. From day one, officers are trained not to take any risks and not trained to think calmly so that there is no confusing a wallet for a hand gun. Of course personal safety is essential for officers, but forgetting to emphasize serene cautiousness in dealing with a civilian can cause serious mistakes.
If an officer is trained to expect the worst, why wouldn’t he become more aggressive in the line of duty? Even if there are nuances, this continued line of unbalanced awareness can probably have an aggressive effect on officers behavior towards the people they are paid to protect.
If police officers are fast to use force in situations where they perceive a threat, it is easy to understand the discriminate targeting of African Americans. Cops are not immune from racist stereotypes and sentiments that plague America. If an officer is already aware of the possible dangers in any situation, than the prejudice that a cop may – consciously or subconsciously – have against black Americans can be a trigger for abusive force against African Americans.
Other than the racial taint of this issue, the bigger problem with an unrestrained police force is that at some point there seems to be no distinction between law enforcement and thugs. While the use of force is one of the prerogatives that the state has over us, to use it in a situation with so little danger, such as against a student, is fascist in itself.
The purpose of having the rule of law is to maintain social harmony among the public. What happens when those who are given power to keep peace start to use it violently and with frequency? If law enforcement no longer maintains social harmony, we see the subjection of the people through violence and fear, which can only create more hostility in return.
It is a positive sign that Officer Fields was fired, but the past shows this is not enough to deter further instances of police brutality. The first step towards reversing the trend of police brutality is a change in police officer training. Instead of instinctively going for weapons or using physical force, our law enforcement officers should be trained to be more restrained in dealing with the public.
As somebody who lives on the real side of Brooklyn, I’ve witnessed how the excessive use of force and arrogance of the NYPD can often hurt relations between law enforcement and the community.
My own eyes have seen a drunk African American guy, who could barely walk and minding his own business, slammed up against a wall. In another case, a white girl coming back from a party was put down on the subway platform while two police officers had their knees on her back. Then there’s the never ending stories of my black and Hispanic friends who often tell me of cops who stop them, straight up cuss at them, and accuse my friends of being drug dealers without having any solid evidence.
There might be a good reason why the countries with the least violent police forces are also some of the happiest. One of these is probably a sense of trust that law enforcement will actually protect you, not harm you.