Over the past week several police officers in America were shot and killed and one officer was assassinated while filling up his car with gas. This seems to be a disturbing new trend in America after recent police shootings of young black men. It seems many officers are under fire as retaliation for these occurrences. Officer killings are certainly on the uptick and according to the Washington Post, “The FBI’s preliminary figures show that 51 law enforcement officers were “feloniously killed” in the line of duty last year, a significant increase from 2013, when 27 officers were feloniously killed.” Our society really has a problem especially because there is a lack of respect for authority. The very authority that risks everything to keep everybody safe. The lack of respect frightens all officers and when their brothers in blue get murdered, they get nervous walking out of their doors. This sentiment rings true as it is quoted by Anthony Scallion, 47, who retired last year after 21 years with the Ithaca, N.Y., Police Department, ““What really breaks my heart is the brickbats we’ve received… Since when did we become the bad guys? It’s heartbreaking what’s happening, the disrespect we’re receiving these days.” (Washington Post)
While it is true some officers may have overstepped the lines, and have made poor judgments it is unwise to blame all officers for the sins of a few. The worst case was when a South Carolina officer killed an unarmed man running away from a routine traffic stop. That was not a good call and completely out of line for an officer of the law. But other cases have more gray areas. Like the Michael Brown shooting, Officer Wilson was attacked by Brown. Wilson was left no other option and when Brown lunged for him, he had to protect himself. At that point there was no telling if Brown really had a weapon. That’s why if a person stopped by the Police becomes combative and disrespectful, the officers are not sure what they are capable of doing. Chris Rock created a video last year, where he explained in a comedic way “How not to get your ass kicked by the Police” and it brings this point home. In the video he outlines what a young black man should and should not do when pulled over, for example. Rock says it is important to be as polite as possible when pulled over and stay inside the car. It would be wrong to jump out and curse at the officer. In another example, he basically says to simply obey the law and you will have no problems. It was a comedic skit but it addressed some real issues that have been affecting our society. His purpose was to tackle the problems of racial profiling but also to show people how to behave in these situations. I’m not denying that there is not an element of racism involved in the Police force but simply knowing how to respect authority is a step in the right direction.
There are a few lessons to be learned from all of this First, people, no matter their race, should learn how to respect authority and not to inflame the situation when interacting with Police. If you meet them with violence the officers will respond with appropriate force. Second, Police officers should be equipped with a variety of subduing weapons such as tazer, rubber bullets, and bean bag guns in addition to a firearm. This would be especially useful for subduing violent yet unarmed individuals. Also more training to help officers to learn how to diffuse certain situations without using any force. I want to reveal a certain story about a local Philadelphia Officer Chuck Cassidy, who was shot and killed walking into a robbery back in 2007. He had a certain way of diffusing many difficult situations. He never fired his service weapon in his 25 years on the force. I heard he always talked suspects down from doing stupid things and even mentored them. His career legacy will continue and should be a model for future and current officers.
A third point is that we need to stop spreading hate and placing blame based on race. Everyone wants the same thing; to be safe and return home to their family. As this society extends further into the 21st century, we need to value all life on the same level and realize everyone wants the same thing. Cops especially are putting their lives on the line to keep everybody safe regardless of race and it’s a sin society has been criminalizing the police force just because a handful of cops have overstepped the line and have not upheld their duties to protect everybody. I was an intern at a non-profit organization a few years ago and their mission included the phrase “unity without uniformity.” This phrase comes about because back in WWII, 4 army chaplains of different religious sects worked together and saved men on a sinking troopship by sacrificing their lifejackets. They sunk with the ship, with hands interlocked. I brought this all up because it means that we as a society need to respect each other and work together despite race, religion or creed. If we could accept people’s differences then maybe we can realize that all lives really matter. Authority figures and all citizens, therefore should be respected and they should learn how to practice unity without uniformity.