Policing in the U.S. can be quite a challenging and complex proposition, which may be why too many cops seem to have become confused about their role in society and what we expect of them as law enforcement officers. They do, of course, get conflicting messages from us much of the time, not to mention the influence of their own police subculture that holds strong sway over them as a group.
In one moment, society’s message is “be strong, be tough, kick ass, and never let the bad guys win.” In the next, it’s “be kind, gentle, and careful, no matter what.”
Police subculture itself typically values the former and minimizes the latter, while also promoting a certain brand of concrete, black and white thinking that can make seeing the subtleties of working with people very difficult.
I imagine, though – somewhere in all of that polarizing confusion – a spacious middle ground where strong, caring, smart, tough cops diligently enforce the law while also paying close attention to civil liberties and the rights of citizens to be free from abusive behavior by representatives of their own government.
Call me naive, but I think that is an entirely reasonable and achievable goal. And the cop in the below video is one example of what I’m talking about.
Cop Plays Catch with Lonely Neighborhood Kid
It can be as simple as getting out of the squad car and building quality relationships with community members. Let’s deliver that message to police everywhere on a consistent basis. We want cops to be in touch with their humanity, to be connected to the people in their community, and to genuinely care about the impacts – both positive and negative – that they’re having on society as a whole.
What are you willing to do to help cops get it right?
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