Law Enforcement Opinion
This report will cover a topic that has always been controversial. However, there have been some events as of late, most of them racially and otherwise socially charged, that have forced the argument the subject firmly back into the forefront. Of course, that topic would be law enforcement. While gun violence, politics and so forth are all the rage in the modern blogosphere and social media realms, the topic of law enforcement is high on the minds of many regular people and activists due to, among other things, the events and details surrounding what happened to people like Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and so forth. There are plenty of talking heads that would paint the police as abusive and authoritarians. However, that is far from being the true picture that should be painted and this report shall aim to fill in the rest of the context. While some police officers sully the reputations of their brethren, the current public climate towards and about police officers is toxic, demagogic and unapologetically hostile.
As part of the overall analysis of this report, the author of this report will explore several angles and points-of-view and will examine them collectively and in context. First of all, anyone that would suggest that being a police officer is an easy and fun job is deluding themselves. While many men and women in blue love the job, the variety it offers and the excitement it can give, there are some definite downsides to the job. Especially when it comes to areas that are gang-ridden, high-crime and full of racial tensions, the cops in those areas are constantly on edge, are treated like pariahs even when they react and behave precisely as they should and they are literally conditioned to expect the worst from any given situation. While being prepared for the worst is always a good idea, allowing an expectation of the same to color one's perceptions even though each new situation and person is potentially different is a bad thing but it is a trap that so many police fall into.
Many people are quick to assail all cops and all other law enforcement personnel when one person makes a mistake or commits a crime. However, painting with such a broad brush is logically fallacious and is ethically dubious. Further, turning these misguided and under-informed opinions into calls for social change and action can be outright dangerous. To be sure, the people that took to the streets after the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other black youths had every right to do so…presuming they kept peaceful. There were many people that were peaceful. They were angry, vocal and strident. However, there is no law against that. However, some of the assertions and claims being made are provably false or there is no way to know if they are true or not. In many cases, even when the police did something wrong the other person involve was absolutely or probably doing something to create or aggravate the situation. The police officers should obviously be held to account for what they do but this is absolutely the case for the other person as well.
The author of this report would point to a man that was almost certainly completely innocent if the news reports are to be believed, and that was Freddie Gray in Baltimore. That man was apparently arrested for little to no reason and he was so mistreated and abused while in custody, it literally got him killed (Graham, 2015). The officer(s) involved in that travesty of justice should bear the full brunt of the law and that would seem to be the case given what is coming out in the new as of late. However, there are other cases that are not nearly as clear-cut. One can take the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as a perfect example. There were several facts and details that emerged as that unfolded that really perturbed the author of this report....
Some (including Brown's family) labeled that as non-relevant to the situation. That is such a ridiculous statement and could not be further from the truth. If Brown had just committed a crime and he was approached by a police officer, he had every reason to be concerned about being arrested (Barrabi, 2014).
The author of this report will not assume or presume what was going through Brown's mind at the time, but it would certainly not be beyond the pale to assume that Brown was worried about being arrested or jailed. However, he could not have been that worried because he was walking down the middle of the street and that is a violation of the law. People smirk and joke about jaywalking being a crime but that law, like the walking in the street laws, exist for a reason…safety. Anyhow, early reports of the encounter between Officer Evans and Michael Brown was that Evans basically just assassinated him. However, the grand jury testimony and the forensics both put the lie to that idea. Further, the only other man there asserted that Brown was shot from behind. However, it should be noted the forensics strongly disproved that and the man (Dorian Johnson) had a prior conviction for lying to the police and he had a warrant out for stealing (Hayes, 2014). Per the grand jury testimony, there was a struggle in which Brown charged Evans, tried to grab his gun, the gun went off and then they separated. Predictably, Evans drew his weapon (which he was able to hold onto) and tried to corral Brown. Allegedly, Brown then rush Evans again and that is when he was shot and killed. If ANY of that is true, Brown is not the victim…at least not entirely. He ostensibly got into an unnecessary life and death struggle with a police officer and he got gunned down because of it. While not involving a police officer, a similar set of facts seemed to come out of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman encounter in Florida. While there is no dispute that Zimmerman pursued Trayvon initially, the forensics and injuries involved indicated that Trayvon was the aggressor when the bullets were fired. The forensics he was bent over at the waist and assaulting Zimmerman as he lay on the ground. Civilian or cop, that is grounds to fight back…even with a gun, at times. The fact that Trayvon was unarmed was not irrelevant but it was not the only detail and that is why the jury could not convict Zimmerman of a crime, even if he has since proven he is apparently a gun-happy lunatic and a woman-beater (CBS, 2015).
In the interest of fairness, the author of this report will now cover an incident where the police officer was clearly more at fault for what went horribly wrong and that was the case of Eric Garner. Eric Garner was not much of a man in that he led a life that was full of crime and dysfunction. However, one of the crimes of his that was common was actually fairly minor and that was selling "loosies." This is a term for selling individual cigarettes to people on the street. For a litany of reasons, the practice is illegal but it mostly because of tax and tobacco regulations…not public safety. Garner was apparently suspected of selling the cigarettes in violation of the law yet again and he was approached by the police. Let us be clear…unless Garner was selling to minors, the worst he was really doing was not paying taxes on the sale of the cigarettes and/or selling them without the proper licenses and permits that standard tobacco-selling businesses have to concern themselves with. Garner did not help matters when he got frustrated and resisted but the dynamic changed greatly when a chokehold was placed around his neck. Shortly thereafter, Garner was dead due to cardiac arrested related to his airway being constricted. To be fair, other means to subdue him (Taser, pepper spray, etc.) could have ended in much the same way due to his health and size. However, the chokehold was clearly illegal, the cop should have known that and he should have been charged with manslaughter for, in essence, asphyxiating Mr. Garner. The author of this report is perplexed as to why he was not, but a grand jury did not indict him (Baker, 2015).
The author of this report will cover something else that has come up a lot and that is the "militarization" of police forces. While it would be nice for police to be able to do their jobs without using armor vehicles, assault-style weapons and riot gear, that is not the world that we all live in. The Ferguson protests and backlash alone…
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