Usually, when you hear about police brutality, you picture some tough guys raised on COPS getting a little too aggressive with a dangerous criminal. But I think that rarely happens outside the movies. Most cases of police brutality are simple matters of cowardice. A police officer is afraid of the unknown, and then over-reacts—to the detriment of the innocent.
There are those in the world who would say that police officers are just great big bullies, and maybe that is true as well. I’ve never met a police officer who didn’t hate me. Maybe I just have that kind of face or something. But I am convinced that “being a bully” and “being a coward” run parallel.
Just take a look at the most recent police brutality fiasco unfolding in Santa Rosa, California. A 13-year-old boy playing with a toy gun is shot and killed by police officers. Details are scant obviously. The police say the boy refused to drop the toy replica of an AK-47. Who knows what went down. All that’s clear is that a harmless 13-year-old is dead now, and he shouldn’t be. This isn’t just a California problem. A month ago, a man who was apparently running for help after an accident was shot and killed by Charlotte police officers who said the man “matched the description of a breaking and entering suspect”—he was black.
What caused these incidents and so many more like them? Fear. A culture of stupid, blind fear. Police have a very dangerous job. I don’t envy them. But police officers in active duty must understand what they signed up for. If they want a safe and risk-free work environment, perhaps they should work a desk-job at the station or work for the IRS or something. But I think it would be better for an officer to die in the line of duty rather than kill one innocent person. It would be better to err on the side of trust rather than on the side of fear.
I am so sick of police officers coming up to the side of my car with their hand itching to go to their gun. Make one movement too fast inside your car, and they start getting all loud and jittery. It’s ridiculous. Why are they so sure that every average citizen is a likely violent criminal? Two things: First, maybe they did watch too much COPS. Second, the perpetrators of police brutality are cowards. Police brutality is just police cowardice writ large.