I feel compelled to write this because of a convergence of two different sources of news. In the newspapers, all of us, worldwide, are noticing the behaviour of the police in America and I would like to set this against articles written by Elisa in which she writes about the hundreds of dogs which a needlessly killed by police officers.
In addition there have been cases of cats (1 & 2) being unjustifiably shot by police officers and those in authority and there is a well known case of an animal advocate who was arrested. It would seem that not only are citizens of the USA under an increased and potential threat from a developing violent behaviour by those “at the top”, the police, but also their pets.
My opinion is that there are two main reasons why the American police seem to have taken a new direction in law enforcement:
- an ever present threat of terrorism which has become a way of life resulting in a permanent state of heightened security and underlying anxiety.
- a reaction by the establishment, and police forces are firmly part of the establishment, in response to a significant proportion of restless and disgruntled citizens of the nation who, after the financial crisis and six long years of recovery have decided that the banks and other members of the establishment need to be accountable for their misdeeds.
Has anyone else got a theory as to why the police forces of America are so harsh? I have to say that there are signs of a similar attitude and behaviour in British police. It is the era of Big Brother. In fact a senior police officer in the UK confessed that the UK is heading towards a police state because of the permanent threat of terrorist attacks.
I would argue that the police are disengaging their brains because as far as I’m aware the police are meant to be the servant of the people. They are paid out of taxpayers money and they’re there to protect people. What we are seeing appears to be the opposite: they are becoming our masters and they are inviolable and untouchable.
We all know the cases, of which there have been several, where American police have, in the eyes of many, needlessly killed a person, the latest of which is the death of Eric Garner whose last words were “I can’t breathe”. On video, he was strangled to death by a police officer in a choke hold.
Before that there was a 12-year-old boy shot dead by police in Cleveland Park. The police mistook a toy gun for a real gun but there was no need to shoot him dead. And then of course we have the well-known case of Michael Brown in Ferguson. There are other less well publicised cases.
No police officers have been charged, indicted or faced prosecution for what many people see as serious crimes.
It may be ironic to note that Eliza states that increasingly police officers are likely to be held accountable for callously shooting a family pet through lawsuits filed by the owner of the cat or dog. It is probably easier for the owner of a cat or dog to sue a police officer for killing their pet than it is for the public to obtain a similar sort of justice when a police officer kills a person without justification. That said it is almost impossible to successfully sue the police for anything because judges will find for the police on the basis of “public interest”.
An indication that American police have taken a new direction is that the most violent cops – the SWAT teams – were sent out 3,000 times in 1980 but are, today, used 50,000 times a year. There is a reported case of a man who was accused of organising cockfighting being arrested by a SWAT team! Overkill or what?
Other people have argued that there has been a gradual militarisation of the American police force. These days, the police fight wars rather than individual people.
This form of police behaviour further alienates the police from the public creating more distrust and disrespect and therefore more possibilities for further injustified violence on both sides.