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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another "bad cop" caught on camera

... his own camera, his own dashboard camera!

I find this ironic, for I am just finishing up a paper on media coverage of policing.

The literature is clear that the great bulk of images of police in the media are actually positive in nature. This is because the police maintain close relationships with the media to help control how they are depicted, also using press releases and press conferences, careful training and so on to help portray the "good side" of police officers and policing.

But obviously, negativity also sells in the media. So stories like this showing excessive use of force against a civilian tend to get a lot of press.

When you read the story and see other stories like this in the future, keep in mind how difficult of a job these people have, and how little they get paid to do it. This is not to justify such outrageous behavior, because clearly it is not justifiable. But for those of us who want to understand why it happens, it is not really that hard when you sit down and think about it.

Police officers see the ugly side of humanity every day. They deal with the crud of the Earth every day. And they are paid very little, respected very little, and often treated horribly by citizens who the officers are usually trying to help.

When they are doing all this, officers are expected not to take things personally. See?

But sometimes they do. And this is a clear case of that.

The good news is excessive use of force is actually very very rare. And the number one complaint for excessive use of force is simply that an officer touched someone when he or she did not need to ("He put his hand on me!"). So let's not lose that important real piece of information when we see such stories.

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