The “Retraining” of America’s Police

As we watch the protests against police across America — most nonviolent — some extremely violent — inspired by perceived racial injustices, the only solution I hear being offered by the leaders of these outraged groups and outspoken pundits in the media is to retrain America’s police.

As a retired New York City Police Officer who trained at the Police Academy for seven and a half months and has been on and off of the streets for almost two decades, I’m not exactly sure what this means.

Police Officers go through rigorous and extensive training. They study social science, law, procedure, etc. They are trained in using force, tactics and firearms. The vast majority of these officers take the job to help and serve the public. The NYPD is an extremely diverse department, representing most ethnicities and cultures. Police are trained to enforce the law, to protect life, property and also themselves.

There are many misperceptions by the public about the force used to effect an arrest and to stop a crime. Most people watch a video of someone resisting arrest and think the officer can use some special superpower to make a offender comply without using force. If you want to know how hard it is to put someone’s wrists together behind their back while they are resisting, find a willing participant. Even a child will give you a run for your money, no less a 250-pound man.

When the Monday-morning quarterbacks and the people sitting at home watch a partial video, hear an exaggerated or false story, they claim injustice. These incidents happen in a split second with no time to debate and strategize. There are often mistakes made and situations that could be handled better. There are confrontations that go horribly wrong and are committed by bad cops, but this is only a fraction of a percent of the everyday interactions between law enforcement and the public.

In every profession there are people that aren’t suited for their job. I have seen my fair share in the NYPD. Not everyone is cut out to be a Police Officer, no matter what training they receive. Just as there are teachers that shouldn’t be in the classroom, lawyers who can’t defend their clients, doctors who kill and maim their patients through malpractice, taxi drivers who hit pedestrians — the list goes on.

The police are not the cause and should not be the scapegoat for the problems in some communities. Retraining isn’t the solution. Find someone else to blame…