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Letters: Multiple factors lead to improper police action

Multiple factors lead to improper police action

Police officers see the dark side of humanity every day. They deal with the effects of crime and see the realities of violence: innocent men, women and children beaten, robbed, raped, cut, shot and murdered. They, more than those in any other profession, know the hypocrisy and failures of the political process, the devastating gap between the ideals and the achievements of social justice. Man’s weaknesses and society’s injustices are at the doorsteps of a police officer’s beat.

There is a world of difference between encountering individuals in classrooms, courtrooms and mental health settings and facing them as police officers must, when they are violent, hysterical, desperate, crazed, confused, drunk, suicidal, mentally ill or high on mind-altering drugs – people who punch, gouge, bite, kick and scratch police officers. People who show little respect to police, lack proper parental guidance, react without thinking, fail to obey simple requests to comply and resist lawful arrest because of their precious egos and macho mentalities. Because of these factors, the use of force will remain an unavoidable part of policing.

The use of force in police work is problematic because officers are often forced to make split-second judgments about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation in tense and rapidly evolving circumstances. People will automatically condemn the officer without even knowing all the circumstances about what really happened. Our justice system functions on laws and facts – not on personal emotions and a person’s own preconceptions of a criminal incident.

Yes, there are police who abuse their power and they should be held accountable. Is there a profession that doesn’t have any bad apples? However, I personally observed political interference and the lowering of hiring standards. The lack of knowledge, carelessness, poor training, the lack of policy guidelines and poor supervision are more often the cause of improper police action – not bad police officers.

Allen R. Miller


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