In a recent article at The Independent Political Report, James Gray perpetuates the fairy-tale of the police as heroes to be looked up to. He writes, “One of the most noble public servant positions in our society is a police officer. These men and women often have difficult jobs, and frequently do not get the credit and appreciation they deserve.” If police were these heroes, then stories of botched drug raids would not be a standard news story. People would be outraged every time they heard about an officer killing a family pet, or an innocent human being, because it would be so unusual. Instead, these stories are routine, because the image of police as heroic public servants is a myth.
I would like to first state that Judge Gray does give one good piece of advice for anyone who is ever stopped by police, “keep your hands in plain sight.” This should be done for your own safety, because the police often overreact when they are startled. I have first-hand experience in this. The only time I have ever had a gun drawn on me, it was from a police officer who was responding to a suspected robbery, but he was at the wrong house. If I had made any sudden movements I would likely have lost my life. On another occasion an officer stopped me for a seat belt violation, and when he approached my vehicle he had his hand on his weapon. I put my hands on the wheel for my own safety, because you never know what behavior to expect, although police tend to be on their best behavior when they know they’re being filmed.
It was recently reported that police have killed over 5,000 Americans since September 11, 2001, almost as many US soldiers that have been killed occupying Iraq. According to the CATO Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, in 2010 there were 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct involving 6,613 sworn officers and 6,826 alleged victims.
In a rare case of officer accountability, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter after firing his weapon “several times” at Jonathan Ferrell, who was running to the police for help after wrecking his vehicle. The Ferrell family may find justice, but the majority of aggrieved families aren’t so lucky. In May 2010, seven year old Aiyana Jones was killed by a SWAT team as she slept on her couch at 3am. Her killers burst into the wrong apartment, but no charges were filed. Indianapolis Police Officer David Bisard was on duty, driving a Metro Police cruiser when he plowed into a group of four riders on three motorcycles stopped at a red light – one rider was killed & two others critically injured. Bisard was found to be intoxicated, though no charges were filed because “the blood test had been mishandled and no other evidence supported the DUI charge.” [Editor’s note: Correction, after three years Bisard did finally get convicted and sentenced to prison. Source]There are also countless stories of women being sexually assaulted by police officers, and countless other stories of sexual assault that are never reported. Do these sound like the actions of noble heroes?
People will often claim “those are just a few bad apples.” If that were the case, then why don’t the “good cops” who are supposedly the super-majority, ever do anything about these “bad apples”?