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  • Bishop John C. Parks

Police Brutality, and Civil Dis-Respect?

The recent tumltuous events of certain police across the United States who engaged in agressive and fatal responses to civil disobedience has become the norm. Almost everyday or at least a few times per week, we are appauled at the outcome of simple traffic stops, or minor infractions. Inevitably, these events seem to follow the same pattern. The citizen refuses to respond to the police, the police feels disrespected, and a tragedy or deplorable event occurs.

The recent event in a school in South Carolina takes the use of force to another level. Video tape footage shows a deputy sheriff making a harsh school arrest. The officer is clearly in an attack mode as he attempts to arrest a 16 years old youth, and subsequently a second youth. The video shows a combatant deputy slinging a student across the classroom. Clearly, even deputy sheriffs are trained on the proper method of taking down a person who is under arrest. Excessive force should be the last resort.

Obviously, these reports do not reflect all of the men and women who place their lives on the line daily. We apreciate and appauld these police and sherriff officers for their dedication to protect and serve. However, there is clearly a systemic problem that warrants some serious attention. The loss of life and the resulting public outrage is heightening the tension betwen police and the people they are sworned to serve. In addition, the lack of respect of police has heighten in recent years. Public disrespect of police officers is prevalent. We are in an era where civil disobedience is also on a rampage.

President Barak Obama has called a special committee whose charge is to make recommendations on how to solve this serious issue. Perhaps though, we should explore the police methods prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court and the events of 9/11. These two events changed the behavior and tactics of those who are sworn to protect and serve.

I would suggest that before the police and sherriff departments meet with the community, they meet within their departments. Clearly, there is a need to redefine the role and behavior of police in their respective communities. Secondly, regular behaviorial screenings should be use to review the state of mind of all officers. Foremost, the methods used to interview potential candidates should be stricter and more robust. Then, the police should be expected to know the residents in the communities in which they protect and serve. Likewise, the churches and organizations acoss America and in homes should also discuss the need to be compliant to police requests. These men and women should expect the respect due to their responsibility to maintain law and order.

Police are a valuable asset to our safety and security across America. Before we throw all of them "under the bus", we should work to support the officers who serve faithfuly and quickly report those who have adopted a "cowboy" approach to addressing lawful concerns. This type of behavior has no place in our society. However, we should also work to ensure that our sons, daughters are compliant to the laws of the land and respond apropriately to the officers who protect and serve us.

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