For some time, I’ve been concerned at the deteriorating relationship between the police and citizens in the United States. While this isn’t happening everywhere, in entirely too many cities large numbers of police have been credibly accused and often convicted of committing crimes that would land an average citizen in prison for decades rather than years. An exaggeration? I don’t think so. I was going to list a few, but searching Google just about cases that I had heard of personally and that involved criminal convictions tossed up so many that I got depressed. Wikipedia has a page listing police brutality cases: check it out.
Twenty years ago I worked for the local sheriff’s department as an administrative assistant and general computer factotum for almost a year, still one of the most interesting and educational jobs I ever held. I also have two brothers-in-law and a number of friends who work for various police agencies. As far as I know, the police that I have worked with and for are honest, decent individuals committed to protecting the public and doing an extremely difficult job well despite distractions from abusive or corrupt coworkers on one side and false and often malicious accusations on the other. But I am increasingly convinced that the second of these is a significant problem because of the first: true instances of police brutality, corruption, and misconduct lead to an environment where false accusations are widely believed and therefore become common. :/
My husband pointed me to an excellent blog that discusses this issue in depth and reviews the roots of policing and how it is supposed to function in a free society. In particular, he points out that the police are first and foremost fellow citizens in a free country, hired to protect the public and thereby free the rest of the public to do other things. Police do not gain special privileges or special immunities because of their role.
The writer of this blog appears to be Libertarian. I’m not, but our (presumable) differences on other political issues aside, I find little to disagree with in this article. I hope other people, and particularly police and government officials responsible for police, read this and learn from it.