By Joani Mersinaj
“To serve and protect”, the well-known motto of a police officer, is being questioned as of late. As media coverage and racial tensions rise throughout the nation, the issue of police brutality gains light as well. The media has recently show coverage on issues surrounding questionable actions on behalf of police officers; is this a rise in police brutality or merely an increase in coverage of what has been going on for ages? Figures of authority, given the duty to uphold society’s standards, need a certain degree of intimidation to be successful. Government, bosses, and even the police find this vital in maintaining authority. However when intimidation borders abuse, the public begins to cry out.
Now with the availability of technology very little is left unseen or untold, so there is a massive increase in coverage and filming of police officer interactions with the public. The mass coverage may have revealed an increase in aggression by authorities, which may be due to a heightened sense of paranoia because of the increased insensitivity towards police officers. Or perhaps technology is just shedding light on a broken system all over the world, which has always had issues and needed improvements. Modern technology is outing those conducting themselves in a manner we do not wish to see our officers.
Regardless of whether there is an increase in police brutality or it is just being covered in the media more frequently, it is an issue that corrupts society if left unsolved. Police are the landmark of security and protection, but once this image is absolved, the relationship necessary between civilian and police officer is no longer functional and the job of the officer is no longer conducted the way it should be. The relationship between a society and the police relies on trust. With an increase in brutality, there is an infringement on this trust; police officers seem more like oppressors than helpers. If there is a figure of authority that is not truly on your side, then that figure is an oppressor.
In order to rebuild trust, there needs to be an understanding between a badge and a t-shirt. The wall of intimidation and inhuman interactions must be resolved so we can begin to look each other in the eye and help where help is needed. Those who are a threat to our safety and comfort would be immediately noticeable if each interaction between officer and civilian was more like an interaction between two friends. It goes without saying that certain job responsibilities make the life of the officer a dangerous and stressful one, but because of that, only a person who can handle the responsibility should step up to it.
The police officer is a person of high courage and moral integrity; regardless of the circumstances, one should be able to uphold these standards. Otherwise it is not fit for that person to serve nor protect. There should be mental and emotional screenings to filter out officers with racial biases, over-aggressive tendencies, and irrational behavior. An increase in police training and routine check-ups on mental, moral, and emotional well being would greatly reduce the issues that rise today due to police brutality. Police are here to help us. Let’s keep it that way.