The Myth of Police Brutality

I wanted to post a vidblog on this subject this weekend but it’s gonna be a no-go. I didn’t want to wait too long to post, either, because it’s fresh in my mind after a few “discussions” on YouTube involving several videos of purported police brutality. Here’s one:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tOVkT2YESU]

Actually, the woman who is the subject in the video is NOT restrained. It’s quite convenient that you don’t see what led up to the tasering. Of course, the timing and the actions are designed to make this look like an officer was abusing his authority. Try this one now:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSBC5sjBcCA&feature=related]

This one annoys me even more. Why? A protester is being arrested and two friends come over and wrap themselves around him in a “civil” disobedience to stop officers from taking him away. The girl with the video camera is screaming at them, saying, “it doesn’t have to be this way!” She’s right, it doesn’t. They could all stop resisting and argue their case before a judge, but instead they fight back and openly scream that they “refuse to be arrested.” The title of the video by the user is “police violence against peaceful event organizers.” All I see is a group of police officers doing their jobs. Resisting arrest is a crime. The camera girl also says, “there’s no reason for this kind of law enforcement at all!” What are they supposed to do? Let everyone behave like neanderthals? If the police allowed every “civilly disobedient” citizen to walk away from an incident like this, their authority would be a joke.

There’s another video that’s been removed several times from YouTube in which a black man in New York City can be seen resisting arrest. Finally, one of the officers trying to arrest him–also black–pulls out his baton and starts beating him, yelling at him to stop resisting. The woman with the video camera in that incident can be heard screaming “police brutality” and, “take a picture of his legs! Do you see what they did to him?”

We ask police officers to do a nearly impossible job. We give them the responsibility of enforcing the law, we give them handcuffs, OC spray, tasers and firearms and we ask them to keep us safe, to stop the bad guys before the bad guys do something bad. Yet when an officer does do what we’ve asked him to do, we as a society turn around and tell that officer he was wrong. You shouldn’t have used your pepper spray on that protester, officer, he wasn’t trying to hit you. You should have kept your baton on your belt, officer, that man was only resisting because he didn’t want to go to jail. You can’t use your taser on a person just because they’re refusing to obey an order, officer, because you can’t tell if they’re really a threat and that’s torture. You shouldn’t have shot that teenager, officer–he had a BB gun, it wouldn’t have harmed you!

Yes, there have been documented instances of police officers acting beyond their capacity. There have been documented cases of police brutality, instances in which officers have tasered and beaten handcuffed suspects. How often does that happen, though? How often can brutality really be proven? I’ve listened to people argue that a taser should never be used unless an officer is in fear for his life or safety. Okay…what do you consider a life threat? If an officer tells someone to stop walking toward their vehicle and that person refuses to obey, what is the officer to do? Wait until they get to the vehicle and find out too late that they were going back for a stolen gun? Then we’ve got a shootout. You really want that going on on the side of the freeway during rush hour? If an officer or group of officers are trying to arrest a person and they won’t comply, what are they supposed to do? Let them keep fighting? Eventually reach a knife hidden in their pocket?

The arguments I’m hearing that try to say any use of force unequal to the threat are absurd. If someone points a weapon at me, I’m not going to wait for them to shoot–I’m gonna shoot first. If it turns out to be a BB gun, guess what? It was their fault for giving the impression that they intended to kill me. From twenty feet away, how is anyone supposed to know that this BB gun, designed to look like the real thing, ISN’T the real thing?:

waltherblowback1

Is a group of officers supposed to wait until one is dead before they return fire to make sure it’s not harmless?

To suggest that any use of force is brutality is absolute nonsense. If you expect police officers to be there to protect you when the bad guys show up, it’s best to realize now that sometimes they have to do things we may not like. It may make us uncomfortable to watch a person being wrestled to the ground and tased because they won’t stop resisting, but it’s necessary sometimes. I get tired of listening to people claim that any use of force against any person is wrong; it suggests that we should allow criminals to walk all over us. And those who argue such a ridiculous point are usually the first ones wailing when a wrong is committed against them, demanding that something be done.

If that’s going to be your point, then here’s mine: if you didn’t want your vehicle or home broken into, you shouldn’t have left your valuables out to tempt the thief who stole them. It’s the same principal. The myth of police brutality says that all officers are thugs. It simply isn’t true.