From our earliest memories, we all have been told that the police are our friends. We've been raised to believe that the police are the good guys, and that whatever they do, it's the law and is right and legal.
Right? If you wore blue, automatic reverence and deferral to a policeman's judgement was ingrained into all of us.
In most of the country, that is. In urban high crime areas, maybe not so much, since simply living in that area makes you a suspect and likely criminal. And if you aren't caught in a criminal act by those in blue 'serving' those areas, you are assumed to have done bad things in the past, it's what you do.
And when the police are automatically assumed to be out to get you, which is true way more often that it should be within urban areas, their lack of popularity with these urban populations should not surprise anybody. Crimes such as 'driving while black,' or even 'walking while black,' while not criminal, are often used as reasonable suspicion or probable cause by police in these areas, justifications to pull citizens over, or otherwise question citizens about their activities.
While mistakes were made prior to the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, MO by the police in dealing with a predominantly black area, the general dislike of police in areas such as Ferguson is readily apparent through urban America. And the 'hands up' gesture is not based on the facts in the Michael Brown case, it is seen used again and again across urban America as a signal to the rest of us that respect for police is not universal, when they use their authority in ways that grate on the public good will decade after decade.
What about the good will given to police forces in predominantly white areas? This too, is often wearing thin. Police are, after all, government workers. They are virtually impossible to fire regardless of their performance, are represented by huge public workers unions and have been documented time and again as behaving badly when it comes to dealing with those whom they have sworn an oath to 'protect and defend.'
All too often, police in predominantly white areas will fabricate evidence, plant evidence, steal evidence, and lie about their activities, lie about the circumstances of arrests they make, and even lie on the witness stand in a court of law, thus abusing the inherent trust that is placed in them.
I am now seeing lots of television programs about police and their activities filmed in such a fashion as to put the police in the best light possible. Don't get me wrong, though; there are many policemen and policewomen who are conscientious and honest throughout the country. But their ranks are lousy with bad apples, and not just one here and one there. They are everywhere, and way more bad cops are on the take, fabricate evidence and simply lie about the facts than should be in any municipality.
Most police in rural, predominantly white areas find that crime is relatively rare, but they have to justify their salary. Accordingly, nearly all the citizens that they are supposedly 'protecting and serving' are viewed at every interaction with them as potential perps, or at a minimum a source of revenue; to be written up with a citation for speeding, jay walking, spitting on the side walk or any number of other petty misdemeanors.
Is it any wonder that the police have lately gotten a black eye? One main reason that the cops are in such a bad light in the public eye is the never ending advance in technology: video cameras are everywhere now, whereas 50 years ago, only news teams had the capacity to record video, and the potential of these news teams of yesterday actually recording cops doing bad things was simply not gong to happen. No longer, however, thanks to this technology can a cop lie with impunity about what happened during an interaction with the pubic. There are security cameras virtually everywhere, cameras on their vehicles, cameras on private vehicles, and cameras in everyone's hands.
Cops relying on their inherent trust from the public to always weigh in on their side of the issue is being called into question now.
And for good reason: our police forces across this country need a complete audit of how they interact with those whom they have sworn an oath to 'protect and serve.'
It's time the police got back to living that oath that they have strayed from over time.
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