An article from CNN dated July 22, 2015 underlines the flip side of the story about certain police officers being accused of overreacting when faced with a ‘combative’ interaction with a citizen.
Let’s clear some space. Over time, a compact has evolved where society requests of certain of its citizens that they be the ones to enforce our laws and maintain the peace.
The principle has always been that the role of law enforcement occurs only with the consent of society, and that, therefore, society should ultimately control the law enforcement effort.
Has that compact gone astray? Yes. Citizens have forgotten their obligation to monitor law enforcement.
Are certain police officers stepping over the line? Yes. And that needs to be dealt with. By the community, acting together, not by individuals acting as vigilantes.
Yes, there are some police officers abusing their authority. That can and will be dealt with.
But the principle remains the same. Taken as a whole, law enforcement acts with the authority of the community.
When you behave combatively with law enforcement, you are not engaged in some noble crusade against tyranny. You are acting against the community. And more likely than not, you’re doing it for no more noble reason than you are pissed off for being pulled over.
We ask law enforcement to perform a dangerous task on our behalf. When you are on the frontline, it is not easy to tell the difference between a frustrated driver and a potential shooter. Stop making it more difficult for those we ask to protect us.
What we need here is for everyone to grow up. Police to remember they do not have special powers. Individual citizens to make it easier for police to do their job. And communities to step up and do the job of curbing police abuse.