Recently there’s been a disturbing number of clashes between civilians and law enforcement. These kinds of incidents have long been commonplace, but with the surge of technology (cell phone cameras, social media, body cameras), the matter has become increasingly hard to ignore.
An important thing to keep in mind about these clashes is that they are not one-sided. There have been numerous reports of police brutality and inappropriate conduct, just as there have been numerous reports of law enforcement professionals being injured and killed while trying to protect the communities they serve.
Civilians Trayvon Martin
and Freddie Gray
share a terrible commonality with Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz
and Officer Terence Olrdige
Loss of life.
The question is: What can be done to prevent these types of conflicts?
I believe there are certain unfortunate but real constants that we must take into account:
There will always be criminals.
There will always be individuals who choose to break the law, and that includes law enforcement officers who fail to honor the duties of the office they hold.
There will always be mistakes.
No one is perfect, not even police officers. Heat-of-the-moment mistakes, made by both civilians and law enforcement officers, are likely not meant to be malicious or discriminatory. But there are mistakes.
There is no simple solution.
These types of conflicts did not begin today, and they will not be resolved tomorrow. Often, situations like these are symptoms of bigger underlying issues. Without first recognizing—and doing something about—the true problems, there can be very little progress toward ensuring that these unfortunate events occur far less often.
I am sickened by the failure of society—our failure—to implement social and economic changes. I’m also sickened when there’s a lack of personal accountability displayed by individuals who commit these heinous acts.
The host of issues that contribute to these situations can be debated, but the truth cannot be denied:
The nature of humanity is to learn from failure.
There are many opinions on how to fix these problems, and what the actual problems are.
There are voices on both sides who point fingers and place blame.
I believe that there must be a culture shift of compassion, kindness, responsibility, and humanity. Only then can an open and honest dialogue occur, which may eventually eliminate the trend.
What do you think we can learn from what’s been happening?
How can we stop this disturbing trend?
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And to learn how verbal de-escalation training resulted in fewer injuries, reduced litigation, and less paperwork for officers in a Minnesota sheriff’s office, listen to Episode 66 of Unrestrained, a CPI podcast series.