Mainly, I love the idea of police officers. Citizens that decide that their careers are going to be dedicated to holding up and enforcing the rules our society is founded on. Roving support drones that knit societal tears together so that we can all prosper and focus on the happy life enshrined in our Rights as Americans. Moral stalwarts. A safety net that participates and interjects to ensure the continued thriving of our communities. Local heroes who we give respect, status, favor, special treatment, and authority because we know they are going to jump in to face the dangers around us. They are a foundation of trust and security.
The idea and that ideal of a Police Officer is fantastic. I know plenty of Officers who live up to it. They are people I can ask tough questions. They are involved in their communities. They are honest in their judgments. They are assertive about everyone's rights. They are outspoken in trying to build more understanding and lines of communication for preventative maintenance. They are GOOD people, who do damn good work.
I also have met quite a few ........less than ideal Police Officers. They are bullies with badges. They are unrestrained egos that steal the sunshine of the communities they work in. Because we as a society have ingrained and sensationalized this job with respect, status, special treatment, and authority, it's all the more painful when it's abused. These "less than ideal Officers" are perversions of the local hero idea. Perversions run rampant because of a protectionist mindset, in a fraternity that is actively against self-regulation. Regulation that would be more active about necessary training and accountability for its officers, because it would recognize the problems festering in it.
There is a deep seeded social contract that comes with any moral authority, this contract shatters faith in that authority when broken. Faith that's needed for better relationships in the communities these officers work in. When that faith has been shattered for over a generation, it's not a small thing to fix. The problem has become systemic.
Police Officers are people, and just like people, they are susceptible to the cultures and norms set by their leaders. Terrible norms beget terrible habits and results. Change has to come from the top.
How am I supposed to know if this young officer has a gun to my head (seriously)because he was in actual danger or just on a power trip? Something about the suit I'm wearing and the wine I'm carrying is making him pretty nervous.
How are communities supposed to give good officers the benefit of the doubt in incidents that ARE tragic and unfortunate, but not nefarious? Expectations of trust fall flat without foundations built with consistent action.
The Blue Wall of Silence and the consequences that come with breaking it HAS to end, as well as most versions of The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. We have to support Officers that speak up about systemic corruption. We can't have a different set of laws for how we treat corrupt officers who abuse their position. Accountability is most important in those we expect to enforce the laws that frame our society.
We have to build trust back between law enforcement and the public. How do we expect to build that trust without Police Officers holding themselves accountable?