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Police abuse will not abate without constant vigilance and productive peaceful protest

Jun 10, 2015 Police abuse will not abate without constant vigilance and productive peaceful protest

Recently, I bumped into a woman whose husband is a police officer. I asked how he likes his work, and she said he hates it. She said that in the current climate of protests against police abuse, her husband experiences suspects who try to draw fouls from him to be reported as police abuse.

Closer to the time of the Ferguson tragedy, I asked a deputy sheriff how he was doing. He responded by addressing how many people do not appreciate the work that law enforcement members do.

Yes, police are human beings who want to be treated with respect, dignity and appreciation, just like everyone else does. With police being armed and with the power to use force and arrest, they must accept that they have a concomitant duty to use their power justly and not to abuse it.

I wish that successful efforts to end police abuse could have taken place long ago in a more effectively cooperative effort among all concerned, including civilians, police, and their supporting organizations. Instead, American society became more criminalized and more of a police state; with appellate courts generally protecting criminal defendants’ Constitutional rights less; and with prosecutors, legislators, the presidents, governors, county executives and mayors more often wanting to look tough on crime than as wanting to balance that veneer of toughness against protecting individuals against the abuses of police, the criminal justice system and government.

Clearly, police abuse will not abate without constant vigilance and productive peaceful protest. Today’s policing and criminal justice system in the United States is overgrown and out of control, and must finally be reined in, effectively, peacefully and productively.

Shining a constant light on police abuses is an essential component of instituting such necessary policing and police reforms. Consequently, laws and court decisions are needed to protect civilians’ rights to videotape and audiotape public police activity, to prevent them from operating in the shadows and to prevent them from prevaricating about their abuses.

Now that the Internet has yanked the traditional news media’s corner on and technological delays in spreading information, more people are learning more quickly about police abuses. Of course, all information is at risk of being reported inaccurately and recklessly, and should not be, in this 24/7 news cycle where plenty of people posting information online are unsalaried, and therefore have no financial incentive to assure the accuracy of what they post.

With the foregoing backdrop, I comment briefly on the following:

– Former McKinney, Texas, police officer Eric Casebolt resigned quickly after the viral viewing of Casebolt’s abuse of teens outside a neighborhood pool. To his credit, McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley quickly acknowledged: “The actions of Eric Casebolt are indefensible” and Casebolt was “out of control during the incident.”

If Casebolt was indeed stressed from the two suicide calls he handled the same day, with one suicide having been completed, then instead of acting out his stress and distress on the teens outside the pool, he should have considered asking for the rest of the day off, and police need to be chosen from those less likely to abuse due to stress and to be amenable to being trained on that path.

– Now we have the beyond disturbing police-camera video of a Salt Lake city police officer shooting dead unarmed Dillon Taylor last August 2014. At best for the shooting officer, the earphone-wearing Taylor was manipulating his waistband, which is a place where plenty of people keep their handguns; that far from justified this fatal shooting. Are we all now to beware having our hands near our waistbands when police are nearby, or to be deaf, not fluent in English, with earphones, or otherwise not able to know a police officer has ordered us to stop in our place? Fortunately, last September Levar Jones survived a South Carolina police officer’s overreacting hair-trigger finger; he risked the deadly fate of Dillon Taylor.

Let us keep up the productively positive and peaceful pressure to end police abuse, and to end any and all racism, bigotry, and classism that feeds the abuse.

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