Serve and Protect: Police and the Public

Police brutality events in the news have caused a widespread animosity against police officers. It seems like people feel police officers are out to get them. It is very unfortunate that people feel this way. As a former squad member and intern at an undisclosed police station, most if not all of the police officers are nice. They will go out of their way to help the citizens.

I do concede that there are a few police officers who lack good judgment and in doing so harm the public. I do not condone their actions. Their actions are truly disgusting. However, because of these officers, people generalize and come to the conclusion that all police officers are nasty. It is really unfair to officers for the public to generalize because officers put their lives at risk to protect and serve us when danger arises. In this article I am going to attempt to debunk the myth that police brutality is widespread. I am also going to attempt to explain what dangerous situations police put themselves into and roughly how many police die each year.

First, there is this myth that police brutality is widespread. It is not. For the sake of this argument, I am defining police brutality as the killing of non-lethal persons. Non- lethal persons are persons that produce no possible risk to the public. According to the Washington Post there were 385 fatal shooting by police from January to May of 2015. However, 317 of these victims can be lethal. This means they had guns and other weapons that may cause death. The other 62 were non lethal (49 were unarmed persons and 13 had toy weapons) and 6 were undetermined.[1] Since it is natural for police to shoot persons that may be lethal we are going to look at the 62 deaths. Now, 62 cases of non-lethal persons getting killed by police is quite a small number. This is unlike our perception that police brutality is everywhere.

Second, police put themselves in grave danger. Crimes may be as minor as a traffic stop. However, police may deal with murder where there is an active shooter, ambushes, and with robberies. According to the FBI in 2013, “76 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2013. Of these, 27 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 49 officers died in accidents. In addition, 49,851 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults.”[2] This is a shocking statistic. So many lives were lost trying to protect and serve. Moreover, there is a notion that police just hang around and don’t do much and eat donuts all day. That is not true. When I was in the force, police usually work a 12 hour work day.  My internship training patrol officer works from 6:30 am to the 6:30 pm morning shift. Another other cop works nights from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am. Some did go overtime because the station was short staffed. I worked overtime too and it was tiring.

In conclusion, I am not trying to say that I value police officers lives more than these 62 innocent deaths. These 62 lives should not have been lost and it is a horrible thing to have to see police brutality and see some police who have no decency by killing innocent civilians. What I was trying to get at was that most police officers are very decent at heart and sacrifice their lives for ours. It would be wonderful to see no police brutality at all.