The Growing Problem of Police Overreaction Against Minorities

This video is must be the millionth video in a growing collection of a Caucasian police officer using what appears to be excessive force against an unarmed (and in this case, under-aged) African-American. This is such a common occurrence that it barely registers anymore.

Anyone who has participated in a military operation in a foreign country will tell you that sooner or later, some members of the occupying force will grow to treat the local with indifference, then hostility, and eventually hatred. The cultural differences become annoying, and those differences can galvanize into a kind of Us-Against-Them mentality. It happened to me on a humanitarian aid mission in Nicaragua, and to a certain extent when I was stationed in Germany. It happens when you are surrounded by people who are vastly different from you, and yet you are sort of discouraged from integrating into the local culture.

I think that this is what is happening to many police officers. When you take away the racial, political, and cultural differences, what remains is an attitude among many cops that they are essentially an invading force. Many of them believe that they are there to force order onto a population that has no concept of law and order. This is different from the problem of the militarization of police forces, because this isn’t just militarizing the equipment and tactics of a police force, it’s militarizing the attitudes, and in some cases the doctrine of a police force.

That attitude is fine for soldiers and marines going down-range on foreign soil, but never for a police officer. A police officer should be part of the community that he or she is policing, not an invader. A police officer should work with the community he or she is policing, and not treating the community as the enemy.

It’s this sort of routine overreaction that makes people, myself included, no longer trust the police. From a tactical standpoint, that’s a terrible place to be in, seeing as how citizens outnumber the police by a significant margin.