Wednesday, April 10, 2013

coming home safe at night

When I told our attorney that executing search warrants as a home invasion should not be legal, he told me that if I were the wife of a cop, all I would want is for him to come home safe each night. Since then, my response has been that if I were the wife of a cop, I would not want him to put his safety above those he has sworn to serve and protect.

Which brings us to this article by Radley Balko.
The "war on cops" talk heats up every time that one or more high-profile police killings hit the news. But there's just no evidence that it's true. 
I've pointed out a number of times that the job of police officer has been getting progressively safer for a generation. Last year was the safest year for cops since the early 1960s. And it isn't just because the police are carrying bigger guns or have better armor. Assaults on police officers have been dropping over the same period. Which means that not only are fewer cops getting killed on the job, people in general are less inclined to try to hurt them. Yes, working as a police officer is still more dangerous than, say, working as a journalist.
The truth is that farmers, miners, and fishermen are more likely to die in the line of work than law enforcement officers.

Balko says the false belief that cops constantly risk their lives in their work leads to poor policy and poor budget decisions.
For example, one effect of false perceptions about the dangers of policing that I've noted before is that they can sway public debate on issues like police budgets, police use of force, police militarization and what sort of accountability cops should face when they're accused of violating someone's civil rights. Exaggerating the threat that cops face can make policymakers and public officials more reluctant to hold bad cops accountable or more willing to outfit police departments with weapons and equipment better suited for warfare.
I interviewed lots of police officers, police administrators, criminologists and others connected to the field of law enforcement. There was a consensus among these people that constantly telling cops how dangerous their jobs are is affecting their mindset. It reinforces the soldier mentality already relentlessly drummed into cops' heads by politicians' habit of declaring "war" on things.
Read the whole thing. The next time law enforcement talks about how dangerous their job is, you'll know better.

1 comment:

Snow Lover said...

Marie, once again you are right on the spot. Nay sayers: Just spend an evening watching the "Cop" shows that have become so popular. Watch how drunk drivers, and people who have run for one reason or another are treated when they are caught/arrested. Many other situations show unneccessary brutal force in a scene that doesn't call for it. Women and old people are not exempt from this behavior inflicted by the officers. In many situations, however, there is reason for the officer to take every precaution and to use every tool and brute strength they have, but the rest seem like "practice". Of course the officer's jobs are dangerous. So is mine! I travel, constantly being exposed to strangers when I am by myself. Dogs, angry people, drunk and texting is all part of my job however - and I take every precaution. But that doesn't mean that I should mace every dog that approaches me, or draw my legally carried handgun whenever anyone answers the door. The actions of the police when they came to your house is just an awful example of what is happening daily across this country...for a variety of reasons. Are we so ignorant that we believe control freaks and dangerous mentally ill people never wear a badge? Do we really believe that having a calm approach is part of an officers training and refresher courses? Is all the screaming really necessary, or could it possibly escalate an otherwise controllable situation?