As I'm reading this thread and after talking to a number of friends who have recounted their own experiences and thoughts, I would say that the most
prevalent issue at work here quite simply comes down to trust
The police departments would understandably prefer that those whom they are giving citations or arresting trust their actions and decision making so
that they may, also understandably, perform their jobs without risk of injury to themselves, other officers or the person whom they are dealing with.
The public, however, because of the presentation of incidences where the use of force or legal authority has been abused, do not necessarily trust the
police departments and may, also understandably, be concerned or even afraid should the police have their attention drawn to them. This is not true
for every member of the public but it seems to be true for a good number of friends that I have spoken with over the last week. Currently, out of
those that I have spoken with on the subject of police officers, the number of those who trust the police implicitly and without fear is roughly 1 out
I am one of those ones. I have had ample experiences with police officers in my lifetime. I've been pulled over for speeding when I was younger
(who hasn't?). I can honestly say that I have had three occasions in my experience where my local police department has saved my life.
The first was through their quick wits in realizing that what seemed like a simple case of telephonic harassment was actually far worse and pulling in
homicide detectives to work the case. The two other occasions were for domestic violence calls. In both cases, the phone was ripped out of the jack
at the time of my 911 call and the police came quickly enough to save me from even more grievous injury that I had experienced (I no longer have
issues with abusive significant others for the record, lol). I have also been cited for jaywalking as a young woman walking alone on a dark street
who chose to cross illegally then pass through the crowd of gang members at the corner. In that case, I did tell the officer writing the citation,
after explaining why I chose to jaywalk and asking why he was not doing anything about the gang members that he, in my opinion, was a *beeping* idiot.
That police officer finished writing the citation, handed it to me and went on his way. The judge, btw, ruled that in the court's opinion, the
police officer was a "bleeping" idiot and threw out the charge of jaywalking. Yes, the judge really said that.
I can also honestly say that I have raised my children, because of my experiences while traveling in the USSR, to have some trust in police officers
and to not hesitate in calling them if there is an issue that seems to warrant their attention. My children know that they would not exist if it
hadn't been for the police. However, a circumstance occurred where a county sheriff's department acted totally inappropriately to the extent that
all trust in the police--despite years of my talking positively about police officers--was seemingly irrevocably destroyed. When that situation
occurred, I spoke bluntly and calmly to the police officers and they were quite honestly horror struck at what they had done. They apologized
profusely to my youngest who had been screaming and was still crying. They gave her a sticker and they apologized to me, admitting that all of their
actions had been flawed and skewed by their own biases. No amount of stickers and remorse worked for my children though. No matter how much I try to
tell both of my children that the police made their lives possible (and that is absolutely true), they have never forgotten that day. They fear the
Any police officers reading this, I want you to consider what I have just said for a moment and take it to heart. Trust isn't freely given. Trust
is earned. In the case of the police departments, many of you are most likely overworked and dealing with an increasingly hostile and distrusting
public. Most of my friends will not call you, even if they experience a crime, because they fear you. I have a friend who makes well over 6 figures
a year, who has never even so much received a police ticket, and because he lives and works in the San Francisco area, he fears you. Ask yourselves
why your citizens fear you across ethnic, racial and economic barriers.
It's because of those within your forces whose decision making and responses have been called into question. It is the seemingly lack of
accountability of case after case of questionable action. It is due to those officers who chose to smudge your positions. Even I, who have had
nothing but largely very good experiences with police officers, would question a police officer's actions if I knew I had not done anything and was
suddenly under arrest due to cases like these:
Would you prefer me to not question or challenge an officer's authority if I thought that their motives were suspect? That is part of the problem,
isn't it? Articles like the one in the Washington Post are not going to fix this but only make it worse when juxtaposed against the above articles.
Every police officer who is accused of wrongdoing and placed on paid administrative leave isn't going to fix it. Trust requires faith and
accountability and we are all in a terrible situation where an unknown number of the public no longer trusts you. That creates a dangerous situation
for both the public and for the police. It cannot continue.
I appreciate all the work that you do. I really do. However, the police departments in this country need radical changes from the training of better
interpersonal skills, crisis management and cleaning house of those whose actions are likely to becomes more smears on all those good officers out in
the field that do absolutely exist. Understand that the situation that exists is not going to be fixed by Twitter PR schemes but by actively working
in better ways within the community so that the collective experience is of positive ones as opposed to negative. Trust, when blown, is the hardest
to earn back. Please work hard at it for all of us. We need you.