Police force may be too authoritative in some instances, but considering the line of duty, police officers are obviously trained to be aware of all sorts of peculiar situations involving crime and risk, even while not on duty. Still, one might consider when crossing the line of service in police work is reasonable, or not.
Police duty usually includes dealing with crime, criminals, and emergencies, among other civic and social duties. Officers may be seen as either heroic or burdensome depending on who does what. Most people in each state of the U.S. may see officers as men and women in uniform sworn to protect the public and enforce laws. Some may see them as lurking in the streets or on freeways, even neighborhoods – most likely trying to catch crime. Still, some may see them as bothersome to the public due to that person’s intent or tendency to most likely commit some sort of crime, even if it is merely an infraction.
The author is unable to truly capture the adrenaline and commitment of one of the most dangerous civic duties known to society, which involves being a police officer. Indeed, the men and women who put their lives at risk for such duty are to be commended for their dedicated service and contribution to society, just like any other service member in the military or healthcare industry, for instance. Most often, police are seen as contributing positively to order and conduct within society rather than negatively … until recent times.
Protests, including rioting have been seen in different parts of the U.S. since the recent deaths of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two African-American men who were killed due to police force. Although the case involving Michael Brown is highly controversial, the case involving Garner differs in that video coverage clearly caught Garner struggling to breathe while also attempting to inform the arresting officer, who appeared oblivious to the man’s suffering.
Neither of the officers involved in each case were indicted after so-called thorough investigations took place. This allegedly lead to protests across the country and even some rioting where businesses were abused and even set on fire. Among the popular service Twitter, ranters used hashtags, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe to portray expressions against injustice, while other users had used #PoliceLivesMatter to showcase their support for police. Still, others had used #AllLivesMatter to portray equality and justice for all.
As the death of music artist Tupac in the 1990s appeared to have been avenged by the slaying of rival Biggie Smalls, so were two on-duty police devastatingly slain in a recent ambush in New York City, which appeared to be connected to recent controversies over police brutality. Never mind these officers were simply patrolling a neighborhood in a police vehicle, the reported suspect had allegedly already plotted a killing spree, allegedly shooting his girlfriend prior to the two officers, and then allegedly killing himself on a train later that evening.
Social media can act like fuel to these types of fires where individuals may possibly interpret protest gatherings and mass movements as reasons to rebel against government officials, or cause anguish upon others. The suspect who was involved in the ambush of the two officers had reportedly posted his intent to commit such crime online. In fact, according to the Union Tribune of San Diego, a man in Philadelphia recently posted threats against police online as well and when confronted, had allegedly attempted to run over officers. He was killed on the spot.
The fact that police deal with these types of issues and risk their life against crime shows that officers should be commended for their heroic and adrenaline-producing service. Not only that, the police force is more likely to be considered as keepers of peace versus authoritative agents who treat individuals as guilty criminals as soon as contact is made between officer and civilian.
While the U.S. has been known to have high incarceration rates, it is interesting to note the statistics. According to the Population Reference Bureau website, in 2010 there were around 1.6 million prisoners or about 500 for every 100,000 residents. Men made up 90 percent of those numbers, with black men incarcerated at about 3,074 per every 100,000 residents and white men at 459 per 100,000.
According to the website, young black men were six times more likely to be incarcerated than a white man in 2008. Those without a high school diploma made up about 37 percent of those arrested. Also, according to the 2008 Current Population Survey of Households, about 42 percent of black, male high school dropouts were reportedly employed in the U.S. without factoring those who had been incarcerated. When those who were incarcerated were added to the survey, the percentage of those black men who were employed without a high school diploma dropped to around 26 percent.
Whether it is a criminal’s lack of education, circle of poverty, childhood upbringing, or social environment, and the breaking of various local, state, or federal laws that contribute to high incarceration rates in the U.S., it is the responsibility of the police force to maintain peace while also enforcing laws. Whether police force appear too authoritative, individual citizens have the choice in how to respond to these forces of power. Perhaps police are not as authoritative as communist dictators, but they sure do have a huge responsibility to keep the peace.
(Warning: Graphic Images and Use of Language)
Opinion By Liz Pimentel
Joe Flood – Flickr License