Without a doubt, the presence of law enforcement officers is vital to any community. The good ones - and we say this with utmost respect to each and every one of our officers out there - keep our society safe, risking life and limb to ensure that no one goes out of line.
However, there are of course those who abuse the power of the badge for reasons unknown to those they encounter. And while these kinds of people are present in any industry and walk of life, we will focus on the ones that are in the force - for the sake of what has been going on since George Floyd, a black American, died after being arrested by cops outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
What started as an alleged $20 counterfeit bill report of a teenage employee of a local grocery store ended with Floyd passing on - struggling with his neck pressed by a knee of Officer Derek Chauvin.
By now, you probably know the rest already. You either heard the cries of protesters on the streets, in the local news, or through social media: Floyd died in the hands of Chauvin, who refused to lift his knee and weight on the man, even when crying out “I can’t breathe.”
Officers said Floyd refused being handcuffed and thrown into the police car - so was it necessary for the killer action to transpire? The accusation wasn’t even proven yet anyway. And even if it were, why must law and justice be
brought with their own hands?
Law enforcement is a must - it is scary thinking about what kind of country and freedom we would have if everyone can have their own way. However, enforcement and brutality are very different things. The former is merely the job description - the latter is an unnecessary, excessive use of power. Crossing this line is the difference between life and death.
There shouldn’t be brutality in law enforcement because:
1. Officers are called to serve and protect. There is but necessary force to carry both service and protection to the people and to the agency. Anything over and beyond that is destructive and poses a threat to peace on all sides.
2. It puts the enforcer in a bad light. Be it for just or foolish reasons, nobody ever cheered on an officer who pulled too much rank on a civilian. The ones who bear weapons and in uniforms are too heavy on the eyes when presented in contrast to those who don’t.
3. It harbors distrust. Unfortunately, this has been in existence between the supposed protectors and protected. Records of police brutality over the years make it difficult for communities to embrace, not the law, but those who implement it. Because the distrust or mistrust is already there, officers have a difficult line to walk.
And what is the point of knowing these things? We write this in hope that despite what happened, may we never arrive at a point in time when all our actions are driven by prejudices and expectations; by hostility and conditional perceptions. What is our freedom if we are a people trapped in these things anyway?