A few recent videos demonstrate the disturbing attitude that some police officers have. In one video, multiple cops use excessive force to subdue a girl lying on the ground. She appears unarmed, does not seem dangerous, and people watching demand "how many times are you going to punch her?" and "was that really necessary?" as the girl is lying in a pool of blood.
The officers appear particularly distressed when the girl is slow to put her hand behind her back. Of course, this is because in a scenario of 4 armed policepersons versus a 100 pound girl, that stray arm could really be lethal. Perhaps people who freak out, yell and border on panic when a skinny girl on the ground flails her arm a little should not be employed as police officers.
Similarly, in this video, an officer tasers a (likely drunk) individual who is not compliant with orders to stand in a 6-inch by 6-inch square on the ground. The man is unarmed, non-threatening, but simply does not do as he is told. After he is wailing in pain from the assault and battery, the officer snidely quips, "I told you what would happen." And indeed, this is the attitude of many officers. They must be obeyed. Period. It matters not what the demand, what it is for, whether it is just, whether it makes any sense, or whether anyone's safety is at issue.
In many of these situations, police like to fall back on the old "officer's safety" excuse. The person may have had a gun, a knife, and since officer safety is important above all else, such excessive measures are justified. This reasoning is essentially nonsense. If officer safety is the supreme concern, what exactly is the purpose of police? Why are taxpayers paying police officers to protect themselves?
I can buy my own knife/gun and protect myself. I don't need to pay third parties to beat up young girls and taser drunk men in the name of protecting me, while all they are really doing is protecting themselves.
That really is just what they do sometimes. My personal experience (although anecdotes do not prove a point) is that I can add up the number of times a friend or I have been harassed, assaulted, or fined by police and that number will far outweigh the number of times a police officer has actually been of assistance to me.
Further, the cost incurred by me as the result of police tactics, fines, and police-imposed inconveniences far outweighs any benefit I received from police ever solving a crime I was a victim of (zero times). I suspect many people have similar experiences. To put this into perspective, I am not a person who has frequent run-ins with the law. My most serious conviction is rolling a stop sign. My other two are jaywalking tickets.
This may not be the case for everyone. Certainly, police confer some benefits to some people. However, it is utterly absurd that as a person who has personally received very little tangible benefit from police, I have to pay for police to go on joyrides, beat up skinny girls, and taser drunk dudes.
The counterargument to this will undoubtedly be that in fact I do receive many benefits from police that I simply am not aware of or do not appreciate; without police I may have been murdered, beaten, or raped by now. Maybe. Or maybe not. But I know certainly that without government police I wouldn't have received all those tickets, all that harassment, and all that attitude.
I say "government" police because therein lies the problem. A system of security is not inherently bad, corrupt, or prone to abuse. It is a system of security with guaranteed funds, little accountability, and internal disciplinary measures that is inherently fraught with issues of corruption and abuse. If Ralphs or Target angers just a small portion of their customers, they will see enough loss of profit to change their ways.
Not so with the police. Their funding is never-ending, unchecked, and fear tactics only encourage the constant flow of funds to police departments. They can kill 7-year-olds, stay in business, and get by with just a little of media negativity. The problem isn't that people in police forces are bad. The problem is the system is set up such that there is no incentive to strive for customer satisfaction, and compensation to victims is not paid for by the wrongdoer, but the taxpayer.
If Target or Macy's employees busted down someone's door and shot a 7-year old child, or treated citizens the way the police did in these two videos, would they still be in business? Would it be acceptable? Certainly, this would not be acceptable, and it is not because people working at Target and Macy's are better people; it's because the system disincentivizes them from treating their customers that way.
The Macy's and Target analogies may seem odd, but police really should be held to the same standards in terms of customer service. They are paid for by taxpayers, and paid to protect taxpayers. What if Target or Macy's shot, tasered or beat random customers and said they had to because the safety of their establishment and their employees was of utmost importance?
I suppose a gun and a badge make all the difference.
Even if one subscribes to the nonsense that exaggerated self-defense is a legitimate excuse for police abuses, the examples of these two videos cannot easily be explained by this. There are no weapons or dangerous people involved. Just a couple of non-compliant citizens.
And apparently the punishment for non-violent disobedience in this country is humiliation and assault/battery.
This article can also be viewed at Copblock.org.