Think of the level of arrogance, hubris, and lack of self-awareness involved in actually training to kill another person. One self-righteous individual gets to be judge, juror, and executioner, all with a single (or 49) shot(s). These individuals are usually profoundly lacking in mediation skills; they are right and you are wrong. Many of the people who go into law enforcement do so for reasons having nothing at all to do with a desire to “protect and serve.” Most police and sheriffs departments in the United States are composed of maladjusted individuals with a score to settle, specifically with black and brown people.
If the people who go into law enforcement were interested in the good of the community, the first thing they would do would be to move into their precinct, and get to know their neighbors. The people who are truly a threat to the community are easy to identify, and therefore to keep an eye on. If police officers lived where they worked, they would be aware of who was part of their neighborhood, who was moving in or out, who has mental health issues, who is homeless, and who is selling street drugs. This model of policing should replace the current practice of strangers confronting strangers, often with language or cultural barriers complicating the issue. This model also assumes the municipality will properly fund and manage it’s mental health resources, which would include a crisis response team, treatment facilities, and permanent housing. It is not fair for the police to have to assume the responsibilities of the public health and public works departments.
Among the questions that should be on the application for any occupation that allows the use of lethal force (including the military) should be: Why do you want to enter a profession where you might have to kill or maim another person, and/or be killed or maimed yourself? Have you ever thought what it would be like to kill someone? How did it make you feel? Were you bullied in school? Was it by a member of an ethnicity different than your own? Do you presently have any friends from a different ethnic group than yourself? Would you describe yourself as an “angry” person? Do you use alcohol on a regular basis? I believe the answers to these questions would help show if a person is capable of assuming the awesome responsibility involved in judging when to use lethal force.
The current technique of “rolling up” on a “suspect,” assuming guilt, and using force if there is any resistance is neither civil nor effective. This is the “Hollywood” model of policing; intimidate the “perp,” perhaps frighten them enough to make a move that can be interpreted as “threatening” or “trying to hide something.” This is not hypothetical; I am routinely given the “reckless eyeball” simply for being an Americanized African, and have been rolled up on just for sitting in a public space. Bunch’a plainclothes yokels who live in Livermore or somewhere playing cops and robbers. Meanwhile, somewhere close by, a real crime is being committed. This scenario is repeated thousands of times daily across this country, often with deadly and tragic consequences.
If a person does not have a firearm, use of deadly force is never justified. The cops could begin by learning how to use their nightsticks. One officer should be able to disarm any non-expert. Eight officers, as in the recent Mario Woods and Luis Gongora murders, certainly should be trained well enough to take into custody one single person who is obviously under the influence of substances, or of his own personal demons. Time and distance, shields and helmets, Kevlar gloves and blankets, nets; there are many ways to restrain a person without killing them. Mandatory drug testing should also be required for anyone who carries a gun, and anytime deadly force is used.
Like many our anachronistic institutions, the idea of policing is due for a complete makeover. Armed men roaming the streets with the authority to kill whomever they decide to is not a sign of a civilized society, but of a lawless one. The fact that the people being “policed” are without exception poor, minorities, and the “untouchables” shows that “law enforcement” is more about controlling the underclass than it is about any notion of “justice,” or “protect and serve.” This lawlessness extends into the criminal justice system, where businessmen literally get away with murder, while teenagers are locked up forever for selling recreational drugs to the businessman’s kids; which money is laundered by those very same businessmen. And why stop there? If it’s all about ignoring human rights and brute force; why not just “roll up” on sovereign nations?
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