Fear of Police?

Following the recent activities such as officer involved shootings and protests, police in some states are geared up, ready to take on what looks like a war. What does this mean to our society and how does it affect us personally?

We rely on police officers to ensure safety within their communities, maintain peace, and take those who committed crimes off the streets. Today there are still crimes being committed and people getting injured or killed. With the sight of officers in body armor and automatic rifles, there is bound to some change. Washington Post journalist Radley Balko calls “the rise of the warrior cop” — that is, the increasing tendency of some local police forces to rely on military-style gear and tactics, even in situations that appear devoid of any real threat to officers’ safety. Such military gear at the presence of police officers may have people thinking about their safety. The community is not a warzone some would say. Having that presence puts fear in many people from kids to the elderly. Is it necessary for officers to equip such weaponry and gear in a local community? Since the police are given such provision they can act more aggressively towards the people. “Military equipment is used against an enemy,” said Haberfeld. “So if you give the same equipment to local police, by default you create an environment in which the public is perceived as an enemy.” Again, people are fearing for their lives now that their own police officers are looking like soldiers in the army. This creates the scene of a battlefield, the factions: police vs. citizenry. In protests, officers are there to maintain control and respond to any situation that requires attention. However, the use of new weaponry by police against protestors or suspects demands change by the people.

One incident happened with a robot that took down a gunman not by force but with a bomb. In doing so, it sought to protect police who had negotiated with the man for several hours and had exchanged gunfire with him. But the decision ignited a debate about the increasing militarization of police and the remote-controlled use of force, and raised the specter of a new era of policing. This use of a bomb robot was called for because the gunman killed 5 officers. If that action was not taken, more officers would have been injured or killed. Problem here is why use a bomb? Could have there been another way to take that person into custody than blowing him up? More importantly, a bomb can also damage nearby property and cause a fire. There are also other instances where robots were used but not to deliver a bomb. Last year, a man with a knife who threatened to jump off a bridge in San Jose, Calif., was taken into custody after the police had a robot bring him a cellphone and a pizza as part of efforts to talk him down. In November 2014, the Albuquerque police used a robot to “deploy chemical munitions,” in the words of a department report, in a motel room where a man had barricaded himself with a gun. He surrendered. This questions their actions and training. For a police department to resort to this tactic is to obscene.

It is important for the police to recognize their past actions and exercise with caution when present in a difficult situation. With new equipment police departments are obtaining, hope is that officers can be trained to properly use them and reduce crimes without taking any lives. These protests about police violence is what the people wish to see a solution to. An end to police fatally shooting unarmed individuals and bringing back the peace between the people and police.