Although the American People like to avoid negativity and tragedy during the Holiday Season, the slaying of two New York City police officers by a disturbed individual supposedly looking to avenge the killings of unarmed black suspects at the hands of police around the country has grabbed the headlines.
Attempting to calm growing tensions, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for the end of protests against alleged police brutality. Unfortunately, this tragedy actually provides the perfect backdrop for a balanced discussion on the very issues that helped create this situation.
Police can be expected to become more defensive and aggressive when under increased threat, thus suspects are more likely to be treated in a far less courteous and gentle manner. In turn, officers with overbearing personalities and tendencies that lead to handling suspects in a rough manner find themselves in a position where they mistreat suspects, whether innocent or guilty.
Fueled by building resentment, this dynamic creates a divide between community and public servants that explodes when tragic events take place. For those who watch young people in their communities grow to fear, hate, and die at the hands of law officers, who are supposed to make their communities safer and stronger, they cannot help but feel anger toward a system that is failing them.
On the other hand, police officers facing public anger over the deaths of people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice cannot help but feel resentment for criticism aimed at officers trying to keep themselves and their communities safe. In many respects, the system has failed the police by giving them a mission that cannot always complete.
In other words, where the systematic failings of a police department and community create situations where police are more likely to inappropriately use lethal force, the system has both failed the victims of police shooting and the police. Accidents happen from time to time while there will always be people who seek to do harm, but fixing systematic failures can prevent the unnecessary deaths of individuals.
Consequently, outrage over the killing of police officers and suspects by police does little good when it is directed at those who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, it divides those seeking justice for cop killers and those seeking justice for killer cops. The outrage over both cop killers and killer cops needs to be directed at fixing the systematic failures that help create situations that inevitably turn deadly.
Global influencers like the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have seized upon events like the Ferguson protests to mischaracterize how the American People view authorities. The reality that the American People see the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as tragic demonstrates the true feelings of most Americans.
There may be those who abuse power in the United States, but the police are ultimately public servants tasked with serving the interests of the community and not part of an oppressive mechanism that exists solely to oppressive individuals as in places like Iran. Americans have always been pragmatic and that means fixing problems when they arise. The American People do not hate cops. They just see a problem that needs fixed.
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