by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor
WHY DO WE HIRE, train and equip local, county and state police forces? Well for three reasons.
To stop crime before it happens. However, that seldom happens except at the national level where they have much broader authority.
To stop crime while it is happening. That usually only happens though in domestic violence, robbery or burglary at a business, or traffic related situations.
To find criminals after the crime has been committed and take them off the streets. That, more often than not, becomes a chore for the detective division however vs. the “street cops”.
Rookies today usually go through a rigorous six month boot camp where they learn about the laws they must enforce, how to use and when to use the weapons they are assigned, and courses in public relations. Then they are assigned to two or more training cops for a month at a time for further training. They can be washed out at any given point of this process. Finally after some 8 or 9 months they are sent out on their own. Then all officers whether rookie or seasoned vets go through mandatory training courses on a regular basis as well as daily brieffings.
I don’t think any business puts their new hires through such intense training or follow up. Yes, I know, most people in business don’t carry guns and other weapons. But the point is we don’t just hire a bunch of bigoted men and women and send them out on the streets to harass the public. The fact of the matter is that they are rigidly controlled. They can’t even speed without reporting in as to why. Unless it is a life and death issue they can’t just whip out a gun and shoot someone.
So, in the course of doing what we pay them to do, do they profile racially and then harass those people? I suppose we must first define what we mean by profiling. Is that watching a group more closely due to race or age or some other broad criteria? If that is profiling then is that justified based on what we hire them to do? Are Latinos more likely to be illegal aliens? Are black teens more likely to be involved in gang activity, shop lifting, or theft? If those kinds of answers are yes, then should the police be profiling to accomplish what we hire them to do?
In any case, harassing or bullying people on that basis is never justified. But, I doubt that is happening on a wide scale basis, though certainly there are rogue cops that do things inappropriate or even illegal. Any police officer knows that when he/she confronts someone there is a risk of things turning ugly. They don’t invent reasons to get into those situations.